App State: Mental Illness, Death Penalty and Ron Swanson

With our first meeting touching on the ineffectiveness of The War on Drugs, our second meeting focused on recruitment and featured a discussion on the morality of the death penalty.

Panel 2

Situated in our on campus coffee shop (Crossroads), our second meeting began with a twenty minute PowerPoint presentation about Young Americans for Liberty and our libertarian beliefs.

While our group maintains a solid core of active members, we are determined to reach out to the student body for recruitment, and this was a perfect opportunity. Our president Brandon Partridge headed the presentation, utilizing the renowned Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson as a tool in the lecture to entice prospective members with a bit of humor.


In conjunction with the prominent television star, Partridge was able to convey to the audience our principles, which are rooted in freedom of the individual. He also successfully communicated our expertise by quoting several well-known philosophers including Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, and Ayn Rand, who are all essential figures in contemporary libertarian ideology. 

After the speedy introduction by Brandon, we presented our panel for the evening, which consisted of four distinguished individuals in the Appalachian community.

On the far left of the stage we seated Kyle McMakin (Jr.), Vice Chair of the College Young Republicans and is a resident assistant in Summit Hall. Next over we had Pankaj Desai, a graduate student at Appalachian and President of YesplusASU, which is a meditation club. Farther right we seated Nicholas Smith (Sr.) who is a former Student Government Association senator and former resident assistant. Lastly we had Dr. Matt Robinson who is a notable Appalachian professor of government and justice studies.

Over the course of forty-five minutes much was discussed on the morality of the death penalty. Our president, Brandon Partridge, moderated the event, asking well-developed questions to our panel. Some noteworthy points included that the cost to put someone to death is far more expensive than to incarcerate them for life so there is no economic reasoning behind the death penalty. The most interesting point came after Brandon asked the question “Is there any moral justification for the killing of someone?” which led to a discussion on the difference between personal justification of the death penalty and the justification of a state sanctioned death penalty.

Dr. Matt Robinson argued that one could personally justify killing another individual as an act of revenge for committing an atrocity, but he said there’s almost no justification for a state sanctioned death penalty. Throughout the evening there were a few disagreements, but as a whole most of our panel agreed with each other.

At the conclusion of the panel many people in the crowd were left speechless, learning several new perspectives on the death penalty. The venue for the event was perfect and we concluded that we are going to have many more in the same coffee shop. There were many people who just happened to be in attendance that were generally invested in the discussion. One can only hope that our future meetings will go as well as this meeting.

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