Capitalizing on a “lull” in the conversation characterized by three consecutive comments from people other than himself, Political Science Major Paul Turner ‘21 helpfully and delicately inserted himself into his class’s conversation last Thursday afternoon, stating that he would actually love to deliver just a gentle, loving push back on his classmate’s comment, should she be so kind as to allow him to.
The class held its collective breath in anticipation during the approximately zero seconds between Turner’s request to push back and the commencement of his pushing back. Turner, who chose to stand up to address the class, placed a gentle hand on the shoulder of the female classmate whose silly, overzealous comment had left him no choice but to push back, before helpfully tempering her idealistic musings about “adequate health care for everyone” and “equal voting rights” with a helpful explanation of the realities of our government.
Turner was more than happy to be interviewed about his actions in class on Thursday. After firmly shaking hands with our reporter, he explained his passion for productive and respectful discourse. “Small classes and opportunities for discussion were the main reasons I came to Williams,” said Turner, with all the comforting firmness of Barack Obama responding to a national tragedy. “And this class specifically has been great for that. Lots of fun disagreement and challenging each other. It’s what college is all about!”
Other students in the class confirmed that Turner has been following his own advice to always challenge people’s assertions and create debate. In fact, he has taken the liberty of responding to every comment made by another classmate this semester.
“Paul really knows a lot about politics,” said Olivia Watson ‘23. “And he knows even more about what specific knowledge the rest of us are lacking when it comes to politics.”
Last week, Turner helpfully pushed Watson to be a better thinker. After she answered Professor Bryant’s question, “how many branches are there in the United States Government,” by saying “three,” Turner explained to the class that he generally agreed with Watson’s assertion, but would like to hear more about what assumptions led her to claim that there are three branches of government.
Professor Andrea Bryant, who appeared quite enthusiastic about interviewing with The Haystack until hearing that the questions would be about Turner, claimed to appreciate Turner’s enthusiasm and seriousness in class. “Paul has been really great to teach and get to know this semester,” said Bryant monotonically, while staring down at the floor. “As a professor, you’re always worried about whether there will be enough discussion in class. Luckily for me, I never have to worry about that, and I don’t even have to worry about responding to anyone’s comments, because Paul can always be counted on to make sure nobody gets away with making a claim without being challenged. Really, no one. Ever.”
Turner, who has “honestly been really disappointed with both parties in recent years,” hopes to go into politics himself one day. “Definitely I’ve been told I have a pretty powerful effect on people,” Turner told our reporter, who certainly had not asked him about his effect on other people. “People really love having their thinking challenged when you do it the right way: respectfully, gently, with just a tender push back on their original ideas. It’s a way of conversing that I think will help me make it to the oval office some day. And it all starts here in PSCI 201.”
Upon completion of his interview, Turner had to leave in a rush, as he was running late for a game of devil’s advocate with his suitemates.