NYU President John Sexton joined health and law experts in a symposium to provide students with a broader framework for shaping the conversation about health care.
The symposium, hosted by the Liberal Studies Student Council in the Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life on April 22, included two panels on the contraception and influence of public policy on medical decision-making.
GLS senior Elissa Ha, the primary organizer, said the purpose of the event was to draw attention to a topic that many students do not often think about.
“It was meant to be an opportunity to discuss and learn about health care reform, which is not as accessible or spoken [about], in my opinion, in the undergraduate community, despite the relevance,” Ha said.
President of the LS student council and sophomore Rohit Mittal said the event was mainly targeted to LS students but was open to all NYU students.
“This event is very important for anybody wanting to understand law, medicine, economics or even business,” Mittal said. “We want all of our students to gain a world-class education away from classrooms.”
Mittal said the guest speakers have diverse backgrounds in their respective fields.
Susan Herman, the keynote speaker, is the president of the American Civil Liberties Union and a law professor at Brooklyn Law School.
Herman said the Affordable Care Act is always discussed in conjunction with other issues like politics and medicine and is not simply focused on health care.
“It’s very deeply about other things as well, including who’s going to be included in society, who’s going to be included in the democracy as voters and who’s going to be included socially as opposed to put off in prison where their lives and the lives of their families are devastated,” Herman said.
Speakers shared their opinions on the contraceptive mandate. Many discussed the Hobby Lobby lawsuit, which was filed against the United States in 2012 over a requirement that health insurance cover emergency contraceptives.
Anthony Caso, one of the panelists and a law professor at Chapman University, said he hopes people will appreciate the value of religion in the debate about contraceptives.
“We can all think of an instance where somebody else’s claim of religious freedom is going to interfere with the way we want things to happen,” Caso said. “But if we grant government the power to take away that freedom, we need to understand the scope of what we’ve done.”
In the closing remarks, Sexton spoke about the culture of unoriginal thought in the United States and the importance of reasonable discussion on current issues such as health care.
“We get into feedback loops where we even receive the information through what the psychologists call the confirmation bias that just reconfirms what we already believe,” Sexton said. “That’s very dangerous.”
Sexton concluded by saying he was proud of the LS Student Council for organizing a symposium that encouraged deeper thought.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 23 print edition. Additional reporting by Andrew Spohn. Christine Park is a contributing writer. Email them at [email protected]