'Power, privilege and difficult dialogues' announced as Teach-In topics

By Kyle Doyle | 11/20/16 10:10pm

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GVL / Courtesy - TRiO staff Members of TRiO Student Support Services present at the 2016 Teach-In on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016 inside the Kirkhof Center in Allendale.

by TRiO / Grand Valley Lanthorn

According to the New York Times, after the election, Hispanics fear deportation, black voters fear four years of intolerance and increased violence and Muslims fear registry and banishment. These are just a few examples of the people who are afraid of President-elect Donald Trump's plans for minority groups.

But, these same groups have a chance to shine and show they will not be overpowered at Grand Valley State University's Teach-Ins.

The fourth annual Teach-In “Power, Privilege and Difficult Dialogues” will take place Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 at the Kirkhof and DeVos centers from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will be an open forum where everyone from every background, race, sexuality and gender can have a voice.

“The Teach-Ins are a safe space for all kinds of discussion,” said Karen Gipson, physics professor and coordinator of the event.

The Teach-Ins were started in response to a “racially charged incident” and, since the beginning, have offered an open forum for people to voice their feelings and opinions on social issues.

The Teach-Ins feature a range of speakers and events put on by students, faculty, and members of the greater Grand Rapids community.

“The Teach-Ins are more of a dialogue with all people,” said Ella Fritzemeier, GVSU student senate president. “It’s not just students and faculty, it’s everybody.”

Anyone is eligible to submit a proposal to speak at the event through Monday, Nov. 28.

Each year's talk follow the same theme of finding where privilege lies and gaining a better understanding of privileges a person doesn't have. Privilege meaning the advantages a person may have over another due to socioeconomic or social standing, gender, race or sexual orientation.

“I don’t believe there is such thing as a purely privileged or purely unprivileged person,” Gipson said. “Everyone’s privileged in their own way.”

In the fourth year of the event, the circumstances and emotions are at the highest after the election. This, Gipson hopes, will attract more people to come to the event to help understand people's fears, from both people agree and disagree with the concept of social justice

“We want people to hear these discussions, even if they don’t agree with the idea of social justice,” Gipson said.

The event coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a man who Gipson said is a champion of social justice.

“He was sort of the architect for the peaceful way of gaining social justice,” Gipson said. “He was including people of different religions, poor white people, and he was inclusive and that’s what we want to be teaching.”

The Teach-Ins are expected to be a big hit this year and Fritzemeier hopes there will be a variety of speakers.

“We don’t have a ton yet, but the due date is (Monday, Nov. 28) and we’re hoping that we get more than last year,” she said. “It’s a cool thing to share your perceptions on hot topics in front of people.”

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