Panel rates Obama's performance thus far

A panel composed of professors discussed President Barack Obama’s performance thus far Monday in the Student Center Ballroom.

It also discussed how his presidency has affected race, the economy and the international image of the United States.

The event began with a cultural dance performance by Diversion Dance Troupe.

Dr. Victor Okafor, head of the African American Studies department, ignited the discussion by asking the panel how it evaluated the president’s performance.

Dr. Mark Higbee, a history professor, gave Obama a D grade.

“Obama tried a number of things but has not made a huge success in a particular area,” Higbee said. “It’s all about holding onto power and using that power to accomplish goals.”

Dr Ravi Perry, a government professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., believes Obama is being scrutinized by the media.

“We always grade the president on congressional achievement, but it is not his goal,” he said. “I would give him a C grade because he is under the scrutiny of the media as the first black American president.”

Ronald Woods, an African American studies professor, believes people have set too high of an expectation for the president.

“With the 60 percent approval rating there is no other way to go but down,” Woods said.

He thinks Obama has brought a new system to Washington, but Obama has yet to accomplish changing the way things operate.

“President Obama has brought a skill set that is different,” Woods said. “He wants to change the culture of Washington but has not succeeded in it. [The] nature of challenges and skill that the president brings, has to be balanced before evaluating his accomplishment.”

Woods believes the president has performed “reasonably fair.”

Okafor then changed the discussion to race.

“Obama cannot exist,” said Dr. Heather Neff, professor of English literature.

“People see black people as hip hop artists. Cadillac has even made cars for black people. The issue of race is built into America’s capitalism, which is in turn built in racial identity.”

Dr. Liza Cerroni-Long, professor of anthropology, believes Obama has been too nice.

“He is letting them hit him hard,” Cerroni-Long said.

Okafor and the panelists then began to discuss economic recession.

He asked the panel if Obama’s overall strategies to fix the country’s economic problem would succeed.

“Obama cannot change it all at once,” Dr. Melvin Peters said. “Young people have to get involved either by voting or participating in political issues instead of ‘twittering’ their lives away.”

Peters, a professor of African American studies, believes Obama has been judged because of his race.

“Only a black man gets judged in a year,” Peters said.

The panel then discussed what it believes is the undercounting of African Americans during the census.

Okafor asked the panel if it would like to see change in how the census is handled.

“It is imperative to fill out the census forms,” Perry said. “If you do not fill out those forms, then you are not represented and you cannot complain.”

Peters also believes blacks are undercounted.

“African Americans are always undercounted,” Peters said. “The black people in prison are never counted and adding to that, nobody wants to go to the slums or hood to knock on their doors.”

DeAndre Hughes, a business major, believes Obama is doing well.

“New facilities are being built in Detroit right now,” Hughes said. “I think grading him harshly would not solve any problems. He is doing his job as president, and I would give him a B grade.”

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