Robert Magee, Staff Writer, RMagee@albanylaw.edu
The Election 2008 Symposium, an event hosted by 11 Albany Law School student groups and the school itself, brought together by the Albany Government Law Review’s own Ali Chaudhry, began with a discussion on voting rights and the suppression thereof, delivered by the Honorable Corey Ellis, representative of Albany’s Third Ward
The Election 2008 Symposium is an attempt to bring together Albany politicos, professors, activists, activists, officials and all-around personalities to discuss the presidential election as surrogates for national presidential campaigns that have either banked on or abandoned New York State in any event largely ignored it.
The crowd this morning at 9:30 a.m. was disappointing. There were about 25 people in attendance, including organizers, attendees and speakers. This might have had to do with conflicting class schedules or the relatively early hour, but it was hard to escape wondering whether it was a lack of interest not just in the election put in politics generally when compared to the daily toil of career-making which is the penultimate task of the average law student. Whatever its cause, their absence caused the organizers to mill about nervously at the head of the Dean Alexander Moot Courtroom, brief looks of relief flashing across their faces as people tickled in, and delaying the start for as long as possible in the hopes that the late rush would arrive.
As Ali Chaudhry took to the podium to commence the symposium, it became clear that this late rush wasn’t going to materialize and that the show would have to go on. He began with a roll call of supporters and a narrative of his and other’s vision for the Symposium. It began, Ali said, as an idea for a single panel, but as the importance of the presidential election manifested itself, the idea was expanded to a full day discussion of every issue controlling it.
The rest of the symposium would consist of panels at which sat Albany Law School professors, heads of local political organizations would offer their thoughts and respond to those of others as they concerned the presidential election between John McCain and Barack Obama and the competing visions for the country which they represent. In order to cover all the issues at play, the panels would each have their own narrow and disciplined focus. One will be on race, immigration and foreign policy, another on religion, privacy and the constitution, another on health care, individual autonomy, and fundamental rights and the final panel focused on energy and the economy. This disciplined and defined approach, coupled with the intimacy of the setting would spare attendees the pseudo hysterical tenor emitting from the respective compounds of the Obama and McCain campaigns. As the day went on, Ali assured, attendance and enthusiasm would rise.