Amid the growing tension in Syria and the possibility of American intervention in the region, Binghamton University students discussed what the United States’ role should be in policing and participating in foreign conflicts.
The Syria discussion, hosted by Dorm Room Diplomacy on Monday, was originally not on the group’s agenda, but in light of recent news and controversy surrounding the issue, it was added to facilitate a dialogue between students with differing perspectives on the issue.
Ben Sheridan, an international board member for Dorm Room Diplomacy and a senior majoring in political science, was the emcee. He said it was important for students to be able to discuss their views and, as a result, become better informed citizens.
“We thought the purpose on campus for this organization should be to allow students from all perspectives to have a place and forum to share their perspectives,” Sheridan said. “The conflict has been going on for over 24 months now, and when you talk about getting troops involved it hits a special cord, since many of us are active citizens who vote and are politically minded and have opinions that matter.”
As the event got underway, students were given various quotes related to the topic and then split into six different groups, where the quote was read out loud and then discussed further.
Some students at the event felt as though U.S. intervention should be pursued as a way to help stabilize the region and America’s credibility, while others disagreed and felt that any U.S. involvement would be dangerous, citing recent precedents like the war in Iraq.
Jon Mermelstein, a sophomore majoring in history, said he believes that it is necessary to discuss the conflict in Syria because of the ongoing violence.
“I think Syria is an important issue because of the massive scale of the tragedy and its location,” Mermelstein said. “There have been over 2.5 million refugees and 100,000 dead, and the world community seems unable to do anything to significantly help.”
Stephanie Vogel, a freshman majoring in biology, cautioned against unnecessary intervention in Syria.
“I think that Syria is volatile and unpredictable,” Vogel said. “I think the best we can do is sit back and think it out before we just intervene and the situation just becomes another Iraq.”
Sheridan said he was happy with the event and variety in opinion.
“The event was a success,“ Sheridan wrote in an email. “We heard a few varying perspectives on the conflict in Syria and the case for and against US involvement, including those of people from the Middle East.”
Bryan Delacruz, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said the forum was important for further understanding the topic.
“Whether the United States should intervene in Syria is an important discussion to be had since it will be key in shaping future foreign policy,” Delacruz said. “That is why I think Dorm Room Diplomacy is a leader on campus for understanding what issues are important for students and thus allowing for a discussion to take place.”