Chris Reichert | Staff Writer
ASWU kicked off the first of its “town hall” series. Approximately 50 people attended the event, titled “Take a Stand or Take a Knee: Social Justice, Free Speech, and Patriotism in the United States,” and sought to explore the ideas behind recent controversial NFL protests, which have seen as many 200 NFL players kneel during the national anthem at Sunday football games.
ASWU executives began the evening by establishing guidelines for the evening’s dialogue. President Jeff DeBray urged courage and honesty but stressed to the audience the importance of patience and humility.
Following statements from the executives, Kathryn Lee, professor of political science, introduced the topic to the audience. She began with a timeline of the protests, describing how they were sparked by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in August. After this, Lee briefly introduced some arguments from each side before those in attendance divided into small groups to discuss questions prepared by ASWU, for approximately 20 minutes.
After the discussion, DeBray reconvened the group as a whole to further discuss questions surrounding the protests. For 30 minutes those present debated several questions posed by ASWU, including what kneeling during the national anthem represented versus standing, whether or not the NFL protests have been effective or are appropriate, and what it means to be a patriot.
DeBray considered ASWU’s first ever town hall to be a success, he said.
“I felt overall very good. I think people were thoughtful and they brought in a perspective of learning but also were willing to engage and there was a level of honesty that I appreciate too,” DeBray said.
DeBray announced ASWU’s next town hall, which is titled, “Destigmatizing Mental Health and Debunking the Hello Walk Mentality.”
“This will give space for…people to reflect on how we can change campus culture to better meet those real difficult times,” DeBray said.
The next town hall will be held on Monday, Nov. 13 at 6 PM in the HUB MPR.