February 10, 2014
Katie Gauthier Donnelly

SLU, Afghan Students Talk Politics in International Debate

Technology allowed students at the University to speak face-to-face with students from Kabul University, Karwan University, Kardan University and Kabul Polytechnic University during a discussion about the role of women in society.

Debate group
In the back row, from left are LaTanya Buck, director of the Cross Cultural Center; Reshad Farzan, debate coordinator; Jonathan Pulphus Jr., student; Eric Behan, student; John Giebfried, student; Michael Wolff, dean of the School of Law; Richard Harvey, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology; and Michal Rozbicki, Ph.D., director of the Center for Intercultural Studies. In the front row, from left are Katie Gauthier Donnelly, program manager at the Center for Global Citizenship; Sara Rahim, student; Paulina Menichiello, student; Frozan Maqsoodi, debate coordinator and student; and Diana Carlin, Ph.D., associate vice president of Academic Affairs and International Initiatives. Submitted photo

The Center for Intercultural Studies and the Center for Global Citizenship hosted an international debate on affirmative action Feb. 6 as part of Black History Month.

The topic of debate was "Based on the U.S. history with Affirmative Action, the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan should implement affirmative action policies to ensure that Afghan women and marginalized groups have the educational and employment opportunities throughout Afghan society."

Saint Louis University students took part in the event with students from Kabul University, Karwan University, Kardan University and Kabul Polytechnic University. A dialogue followed the debate, discussing the desire to create spaces for and between people in local communities and across continents.

"What you just witnessed is not an ordinary event — what happened in the last hour or so is extraordinary by any standards," said Shoaib Rahim, a veteran debate coach from the American University of Afghanistan. "A thing as simple as debate and exchanging ideas can be very, very powerful and meaningful to a society that has unfortunately not had the exposure it needs."

The panel of SLU students was made up of John Giebfried, a graduate student in the Department of History; Eric Behna, a senior political science student; Sara Rahim, a senior public heath student; Jonathan Pulphus, a freshman student; and Paulina Menichiello, a freshman student.

The Kabul debate team, sponsored by Open Debate Society of Afghanistan (ODSAO) included, Mohammad Dawood Safi, from Kabul University; Abudul Wahab Qurishi, from Kabul Polytechnic University; Sadia Sayed, from Karwan University; and Abdul Khaliq Sherzai, from Kardan University.

Saif and Qurishi were declared winners of the event. 

Frozan Maqsoodi, a graduate student at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, and Reshad Farzan, two of the six founders of ODSAO, worked with Diana Carlin, Ph.D., associate vice president for Graduate Education and International Initiatives, to coordinate debaters in Afghanistan and to bring the event to SLU.

The debate was judged by Mike Wolff, J.D., dean of the School of Law, and Richard Harvey, associate professor of psychology, in collaboration with debate judges Nasir Naimee and Mansoor Shah Mukhtari in Kabul.

Video of the debate is avaliable to view online. Visit the Center for Global Citizenship's website to learn more about its programs and initiatives. 

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