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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Wolf participates in panel on gerrymandering

Panelists discuss gerrymandering in Mandeville Teletorium (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

Students, faculty and community members discuss redistricting measures

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf participated in a six person panel on gerrymandering in the Mandeville Teletorium on Jan. 31.

Wolf’s comments on the panel focused on fairness and the power of the individual voter.

“My biggest concern is on fairness,” Wolf said. “Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, whether you have seniority or not, you’ve got to be for a fair system, because if you’re not you’ve really undermined the legitimacy of that system and it doesn’t matter what you decide. It’s not going to have a lot of resonance.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf gives his opening remarks at the panel (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

The Pa. Supreme Court recently ruled the current congressional map unconstitutional.

Gerrymandering has since become a topic of interest in the state, as legislatures work to redraw the map with bills being discussed in each of the houses.

Megan Lynott ’19, a political science major from Doylestown, Pa., attended a conference this past summer that discussed women in Pennsylvania state politics on behalf of St. Joe’s. She was disheartened by the fact only 18.6 percent of the state legislature are represented by women.

Lynott asserted that not enough women are at the table.

She asked the panel, “When we are considering this conversation on redistricting, how can we do it in a way that we can empower more women to participate in our state legislature and have them more equally represented?”

William McDevitt J.D., associate professor in the department of management, made a comment regarding the value of each vote and its relationship with gerrymandering.

“The right to vote includes the right that our votes count, and our votes do not count when maps are drawn in such a way that to ensure that one party or another party is going to prevail in an election,” McDevitt said.

William McDevitt J.D., associate professor in the department of management, comments about the value of votes (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

McDevitt added that in the district where he lives, his vote does not count.

Many of the students in attendance came out to learn more about gerrymandering and hear what the governor had to say. Julien Zuzarte ’18, was one of those students.

“It’s not everyday that the governor comes to visit your school,”  Zuzarte said. “I don’t know a lot about Pennsylvania politics, so it’s going to be really interesting to get a perspective of something that is really important to voters across the country from someone in his position.”

Fellow panelists included Joe Powers, adjunct professor of political science, Carol Kuniholm, founder and chair of Fair Districts PA, Jasmine Sessoms, founder of She Can Win, Micah Sims, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, and Jonathan Marks, commissioner for the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation. The panel answered questions and entertained comments from students, faculty and community members.

Kuniholm said that students should be concerned about gerrymandering because it keeps legislators from listening to their constituents.

Joseph DiAngelo, Ed.D., Haub School of Business Dean, speaks to Gov. Tom Wolf after the event (Photo by Luke Malanga ’20).

“If you are a younger voter, those legislators are people who have been in office and they are people who do favors for each other and they are shutting out young voices, women’s voices, and they are shutting out minority voices,” Kuniholm said. “Those things matter to you [as students] and you want to have a level playing field so that everyone’s voice is heard, you [students] really need to engage with this topic.”

Alex Karpinski ’20 contributed to this story.

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