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Pre-Symposium on Democracy Thoughts and Opinions

Updated: Mar 2, 2023

Written by: Vaishnavi Peyyety, Red & Black Current Events Staff Writer

2021 Symposium on Democracy Keynote Speaker Fred Johnson, PhD talks with W&J student after his speech on the history of mob violence. (Courtesy W&J College)
The Symposium on Democracy, an annual event held by Washington and Jefferson College, explores the relationship between justice and democracy while understanding various challenges faced in our society. Through group discussions, seminars, workshops, and discourses from notable individuals around the world, this event focuses on fostering collaborative conversation.

This year the symposium will feature the following people:
· Author Paul Loeb
· Public Policy Professor Dr. Mary Ryan
· Reproductive Justice and Queer Activist Bekezela Mguni
· Interfaith Leadership Studies Professor Dr. Cynthia Hogan
· W&J Coach Megan Foster
· W&J Art Professor Dr. Carolina Alamilla
· The Center for Coalfield Justice
· The Black Student Union of W&J
· W&J Russian Professor Dr. Susan Vdovichenko
· W&J Accounting Professor Dr. Tiffani Gottschall
· The Red & Black
· W&J Political Science Dr. Joel Kersting
· and keynote speaker representative Adam Kinzinger.

The symposium is a well-respected event that has been hosted by W&J since 2018 that allows individuals of a variety of backgrounds to explore democracy and understand its necessity.

Some students had particular talks they were especially excited about.

Sophomore psychology student Ainsley Huang shared this: “I am especially looking forward to representative Adam Kinzinger’s speech on defending democracy and defeating toxic tribalism.”

Pooja Potluri, a sophomore student-athlete, said she is excited to see her coach talk about sports, ethics, and society. “I am really excited to hear what Coach Meghan has to say during her talk. I read that she’ll be talking about fair play, performance-enhancing drugs, and gender equity.”

“I am really excited to hear what Coach Meghan has to say during her talk. I read that she’ll be talking about fair play, performance-enhancing drugs, and gender equity.”- Pooja Potluri

Many are curious to know about Kinzinger’s decision to go against his party.

“I was also wondering why he made the decision to go against his own party. What lead him to that? How did he feel about changes in our government? And where does he see our country in a couple years?” said Huang.

“I was also wondering why he made the decision to go against his own party. What lead him to that? How did he feel about changes in our government? And where does he see our country in a couple years?” said Huang

American Artist Rob Shetterly delivers the Evening Keynote Address at W&J's 2019 Symposium on Democracy. (Courtesy W&J College)
Following the step back of Serena Williams, Potluri stated this: “I am especially interested to hear what [Coach Foster] will say about the impact of sports on communities because I believe we have built a strong tennis community, but I wonder how this looks with other sports and on different scales: national, international and other areas.”

W&J staff members are also interested and promoting this event to their students.

“I try to encourage my students to be politically aware. I even offer extra credit for voting. So, I think it is a good idea that the school is bringing in leaders to promote civic engagement and make students aware of the current political climate.”
“I try to encourage my students to be politically aware. I even offer extra credit for voting. So, I think it is a good idea that the school is bringing in leaders to promote civic engagement and make students aware of the current political climate.” - W&J staff members
While there seems to be support for this event, some students are not as interested in attending the meetings.

One senior stated “I have been here for four years and while I totally get that it is important to stay current and aware of societal issues, I am a political science major, so we talk about these things a lot...It kind of feels like we have no option but to attend the symposium events because it’s not like I can go home or anything. I’m from Philly!”

These quotes reveal that while some are anticipating this event, others are not so interested in attending. To learn more about this event you can visit the following website: https://www.symposiumondemocracy.org/

The Red & Black will also have post-event coverage. Stay tuned!

__________________________________________________________________________________Please note, a correction to this article was made on March 2, 2023 to Dr. Mary Ryan's title.


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