BBC interviews Biola University Torrey Honors Institute students

A BBC radio show came to Biola Monday to elicit the reactions of college students to the monarchy.

Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute hosted a recording of a British Broadcasting Corporation radio program Monday, Feb. 28. The recording was coordinated by Torrey professor Robert Thomas Llizo and involved a panel of eight Torrey students discussing their views on monarchism. The discussion will be featured in a 23-minute segment that will be broadcasted during the weeks leading up to the wedding of England’s Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29.

“We thought it would be a good idea to get away from the Windsors (the royal family) for awhile,” BBC producer Michael Gallagher said. “Everyone’s probably all going to be sick of the Windsors by May 1, so we thought that we’d look at things from a more global perspective.”

Biola students comment on the monarchy

That global perspective, according to Gallagher, came in the form of examining why young people in other countries support or oppose the monarchy, England’s system of government. Gallagher first traveled to Sweden to interview the head of the Swedish Republican Association about why the group believes a democracy would be better for the country. Sweden is currently governed by what Gallagher called a “bicycle monarchy,” a more informal, modest form of monarchy.

Next, Gallagher said BBC discovered the Los Angeles chapter of the International Monarchist League. He was intrigued by the existence of such a group in a country that, in his words, “pretty much defined itself by overthrowing a king — the world’s most preeminent republic.” Hoping that this would capture the interest of BBC’s listeners, Gallagher contacted Anthony McAlister, the Los Angeles chapter president. McAlister and Llizo, who is on the chapter board of trustees, then arranged for Gallagher to come to Biola.

Students jump at opportunity to be panelists

The eight student panelists were recruited via an email invitation sent to all Torrey students. According to Michael Fatigati, administrative assistant to the director of Torrey, the response was both immediate and overwhelming. Within hours of sending the email, he said, he was already turning down volunteers. The students who replied quickly enough to be selected were seniors Rebecca Smith, Joshua Ward and Stephanie Younger, juniors Sarah Jurkiewicz and Mark Harbison and sophomores Gabriel Choo, Jonathan Diaz and Megan Moghtaderi.

Five of the panelists identified themselves as pro-monarchy, while Choo and Moghtaderi said they were ambivalent and Jurkiewicz said she was pro-republic. Although she is not an ardent monarchy supporter, Jurkiewicz said she wanted to participate in the discussion to broaden her understanding.

“As a political science major, I think it’s important to discuss ideas and to discuss different governments even if you disagree with them,” she said.

Diaz, a self-identified Anglophile, said, “I wanted a chance to explain my views on monarchy and hear from other monarchists on Biola’s campus.”

Intelligent discussion impresses producers

During the hour-and-a-half recording session, McAlister led the panelists in a discussion that covered a range of topics including misconceptions about the function of a monarchy, comparison of republican and monarchist governments and the role of a nation’s leader. Gallagher and McAlister both said afterward that they were impressed by the intelligence and eloquence of the student panelists.

“I feel [the discussion] went extremely well. I thought that the participants were very well-informed and also very passionate, and that made for a good recipe,” McAlister said.

The program will be broadcasted April 20 on BBC’s World Service station, which has an international audience of 180 million, and streamed online here.

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