Current and former GVSU president’s gather to discuss the strength of the Constitution


Courtesy / GVNext, Kendra Stanley-Mills

Elizabeth Schanz

In the wake of the capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, the Presidential Roundtable convened on Wednesday, Feb. 24th for their first event. The event aimed to show the public that the framer’s goals for the U.S. constitution prevents mob rule and upholds democracy. 

Guest speaker Jeffery Rosen, the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, Grand Valley State University’s President Philomena Mantella, and former university presidents: Arend Lubbers, Mark Murray, and Thomas Haas, discussed the constitution in our world today. 

The discussion focused on how the framer’s intent for the integrity and longevity of the American democracy still holds true today. Jeffery Rosen emphasized the significance of the constitution and its barriers throughout history. 

“Mobs incited by demagogues caused them to draft a Constitution strong enough to create a government based on reasoned thought,” Rosen explained.

Similarly, this type of mob was evident in the events of Jan. 6 when a crowd of radical Trump supporters stormed the capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the new president, Joe Biden. 

“The constitution did hold and there were several opportunities for it to fail and it didn’t…checks and balances helped work through the challenge,” Rosen said. 

The constitution and the government’s established institutions allowed for a peaceful transfer of power to occur in the face of adversity.  

Rosen also delved into how a crowd of this nature develops through technology and social media and what implications these platforms have on our lives. He made the statement that information spread by social media and the radicalization of individuals through the internet brought the insurrection together. 

“Part of the problem and part of the solution (for radicalization) could be algorithmic…(social media platforms) could be more mindful about what they recommend based on your previous watching habits and not recommend increasingly extreme versions of what you have already seen.” 

Rosen demonstrated that social media can create an “echo chamber” that creates a bubble around a user preventing them from seeing various ideas. He does not see censorship as the solution to these problems. Instead, he urges people to look to follow the constitution in our protection of free speech. 

President Mantella and the former university presidents all emphasized the importance of a healing nation through understanding both history and one another. 

As a former member of the Coast Guard, Haas said he was greatly shocked and distraught from the events at the capitol. He emphasized how not only individuals but the GVSU community as a whole can carry on the principles of democracy and the understanding of the constitution to create a better future. 

“I believe in service-learning… civic responsibility is active participation in public life and is to offer an education to both undergraduate and grad students to GVSU,” Haas said. 

He said the aim of the university is to create an “informed citizen” and creating an open and engaging space for engagement. 

Haas said he firmly believes that “Democracy is finding the common ground. It is through compromise that we can then reap the benefits of diverse thinking and thought.”

Two more presidential roundtable events are to be held in March and April regarding elections and democracy. To register and receive information for these upcoming event go to