A group of students and faculty watch President Donald Trump address the United Nations on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. A panel of three professors weighed in on President Trump's speech in real time and facilitated a rapid and engaging discussion between all the attendees. (Adele Hancock/B&W Staff)

Faculty panel discusses President Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations


The Lehigh University and United Nations Partnership hosted a faculty teach-in on Sept. 24, where three Lehigh faculty members weighed in on Trump’s address to the UN.

Lehigh professors Mary Anne Madeira, Vera Fennel and Frank Gunter offered insight into Trump’s speech, which they said was 20-25 minutes longer than many addresses to the UN by other world leaders.

Trump encouraged leaders to forget about globalism and focus on loving their own countries, which he said would bring them political peace. 

Hajer Sabil, ‘23, said she thought Trump did not say anything useful or new.

“He didn’t really say anything with purpose or substance at all,” Sabil said. “He just talked to talk. I guess there’s the different perspectives on it, which was interesting.” 

Outside of the speech, a discussion about Trump and where he stands with the American people continued as the professors covered topics from China’s alleged theft of United States intellectual property to the supposed whistleblower that led to an impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Gunter, a professor of economics, said an attempt to impeach Trump at the end of his term may be a step backwards for the Democratic party. It could serve to secure Trump a second term, as he could be cast as a martyr to his already significant following. 

Despite increasing media attention, Trump did not discuss climate change during his speech. 

Grace Lee, ‘23, was one of the students in attendance.

“There were a lot of key areas that the professors mentioned he didn’t cover,” Lee said. “Especially, I was surprised he didn’t talk as much about the climate march, given that the exact timing of it was happening literally outside the UN building.”

Fennel, a professor of political science, said she thinks access to intimate knowledge of the UN space and its happenings is very valuable to Lehigh.

“I think that our relationship with the UN is so important and so unique that I just want students to really take advantage of it,” she said

Fennel said the audience was both enthusiastic and informed, and the panel did not know much more than the students⁠—a situation that led to rapid, specific and productive bipartisan discussion.

Bill Hunter, director of the UN partnership, coordinates the annual presentation.

“Having three faculty from three very different backgrounds, very different perspectives give their immediate feedback to President Trump and what he is, in effect, saying to the world is very exciting,” Hunter said. “… This could’ve gone on for another hour.”

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1 Comment

  1. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    “Trump encouraged leaders to forget about globalism and focus on loving their own countries, which he said would bring them political peace. ” This is another of those instances where President Trump’s actions do not match his words. He becomes irate when nations act in what they feel is their own best interest. Making (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran etc) Great Again. Of course the point is to do what The Donald wants you to do.

    “Gunter, a professor of economics, said an attempt to impeach Trump at the end of his term may be a step backwards for the Democratic party.” When it comes to impeachment, the facts should determine actions. As I watched Adam Schiff of California, the House Intelligence Committee chairman during the Intelligence Committee’s Thursday hearing with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire; I perceived mostly political theater with Rep. Schiff badgering Mr. McGuire “We’ll get the unfiltered testimony of that whistleblower,” Impeachment is serious, politics should not apply to the proceedings if and when they occur. Our representatives should consider what is best for the nation and not for themselves or their party; this is why we elect them although the country has seen relatively little of this thinking on their part.

    President Trump tweeted: “Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser, especially when this accuser, the so-called “Whistleblower,” represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way. Then Schiff made up what I actually said by lying to Congress. His lies were made in perhaps the most blatant and sinister manner ever seen in the great Chamber. He wrote down and read terrible things, then said it was from the mouth of the President of the United States. I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason. In addition, I want to meet not only my accuser, who presented SECOND & THIRD HAND INFORMATION, but also the person who illegally gave this information, which was largely incorrect, to the “Whistleblower.” Was this person SPYING on the U.S. President? Big Consequences!” Schiff did lie to embellish the accusations, you can cause problems if you try to frame a guilty man. For President Trump, it looks like the best defense is a good offense. You can read the summary of the phone conversation yourselves and make up your own mind.

    This could be the moment Trump haters have waited for since November 2016; it could also be when Republicans are able to regain control of their party.

    P.S. President Trump is unconcerned about climate change so why would he discuss it?

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