Flames of the Torch: Election 2020: civis americae

civis romanus sum was a Latin phrase used by Romans in their travels that translates to “I am a Roman citizen.” It is said that Romans could go anywhere in the world, completely guarded by the might of Rome using this phrase. The same thing can be said about American citizenship in modern times. American citizenship grants special access and protections throughout the world, even in the most dangerous of places. 

The rest of the world joined us in watching a historical presidential election as President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden went head-to-head, both candidates outright claiming or positioning himself for victory. The consensus was clear going into Nov. 3 that a winner would not be known for some time. This week, the Torch has covered many election-centered issues, from student reactions to the race to the means by which students voted. 

We asked students for their thoughts in the final stretch of the race. The responses follow suit with what we have seen in our community and many others across the nation: the social push for civic engagement, particularly among young voters and college students this election cycle, has been unprecedented. Students did, however, show less optimism and more fear, which is seen through events such as widespread protests on behalf of a society feeling grossly misrepresented. 

The Presidential race has not been the focal point of the national conversation this year, as it was anticipated at the beginning of 2020. Instead, national concern lays on a damaging pandemic and a reinvigoration of social movements addressing issues faced by BIPOC. The death of George Floyd and the countless other murders of Black Americans by law enforcement have not been forgotten. The movement will continue past this election to ultimately get this nation to “make the future for its Black population much more promising than its past,” as contributing writer Dallas Hill wrote this summer

The Presidential candidates must also handle the ongoing pandemic. We have seen how members of the University community and in surrounding Queens have struggled with COVID-19. However, we are inspired by stories such as that of Dr. Elissa Brown, a professor of psychology at St. John’s, who has conducted valuable research to help the many families in need. 

Now, for all of us, many questions still loom: How will our lives look in the spring, as more students return to Queens and Staten Island? Will we return to campus? Will we revert to online learning for the spring semester once more? 

Lastly, as an editorial board, we’re having many conversations about the future, similar to millions had in Zoom calls and in family rooms across the country. While the answers on that front are uncertain, we think it’s right to end this Flames by thinking back to the Latin phrase civis romanus sum.

No matter what the outcome of the election may be, we think Americans should not underestimate themselves. The surge in voter engagement this year shows a strong foundation for a reactionary response to an overwhelming feeling that something is wrong with how we do things. The understanding is that we have more power than most others in the world do; and that should implore a sense to improve on this foundation, to keep pushing for what is right.