Forum to debate national security, individual freedoms

By Erin Renzas

National security will be the topic of Illinois Campus Deliberations’ second open forum tonight at 7.

The forum will be held in Room A at the Illini Union, titled “National Security v. Individual Freedom,” will discuss several political issues.

“The topic is very timely because of things like the Patriot Act, the situation in Iraq and the racial profiling that has been a result of the war,” said Aish Sinha, president of ICD and a senior in business.

Panelists will include University Professors Steven Beckett and Mark Leff, graduate student Tom Mackaman, and Billy Mills, junior in LAS. Each member of the panel brings a distinct viewpoint to the table, Sinha said.

Beckett, who has taught or coordinated the College of Law’s Trial Advocacy Program since 1987. He teaches trial advocacy and white collar crime classes at the University’s College of Law, brings a distinct knowledge of the legal issues at work within the issues of national security and civil liberties, Sinha said.

Leff specializes in 20th century United States history and public policy.

Mackaman was the 2004 Socialist Equality Party Candidate for state representative from District 103 and is pursuing his Ph.D. in history.

Mills balances the panel as a member of the College Republicans at the University; he serves as the College Republicans’ political forums committee chair. Mills said he feels his presence on the panel will bring a particularly unique point of view to the forum, adding that the balance of the forum is very important.

“The classroom, much of the time, is dominated by liberal academics, at least on this campus,” Mills said. “Here, students will be able to have both perspectives.”

Mills, however, said he does not feel that the forum will be a debate over which side of a controversial issue is correct, but that the forum will show all sides of the issue in a public arena.

“I hope students experience a full debate about the issues surrounding this topic – not that they side with either of the arguments, but that they become interested in the debates so that they come out and continue to research and find out about the issues,” Mills said.

The forum is a place where all students, faculty and members of the community can voice their opinions and discuss national security and individual freedoms, said Alex Bogdanets, vice president of ICD and a junior in business.

“We are not trying to solve the problem because we can’t, but we want the students to understand the topic fully,” Bogdanets said.

The organization, which was formed in January 2005, seeks to provide a neutral setting in which various members of campus groups, students and faculty members can address the most pressing of topics, facing the United States today, Sinha said.

“We realized that there was a lack of discussion on this campus about important and controversial issues,” he said. “We wanted to create a discussion and a dialogue between peers.”