On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Keene State held its first Teach In, which consisted of sessions taught by KSC faculty and staff addressing current issues including immigration, transgender rights, environmental issues, fake news and much more. Those interested gathered in the Mabel Brown Room at 9:30 a.m. for the opening ceremony to listen to various speakers, including President Anne Huot and Provost William Seigh.
“What we’re doing today comes out of your concerns,” Huot began. She went on to discuss the importance of reflecting on values, listening to multiple perspectives and unifying the campus. She said that the point of the teach-in was to “renew what we believe- we value all of our community.”
KSC’s provost spoke along similar lines as Huot.
“We are here to deepen our knowledge…we are here to support our community,” Seigh said.
At 10:00 a.m., the sessions began. One of the first sessions dealt with issues surrounding immigration. Karen Balnis, Jessica Gagne Cloutier and Kim Schmidl-Gagne presented their session titled, “Immigration in America: How Do We Fix a System in Crisis?” From the beginning, each presenter pointed out that they were not experts on the situation, but they were open to discussion.
After breaking up students, staff and other faculty members who were able to attend into three groups, Cloutier explained how they wanted the session to run.
“Because this can be a pretty difficult conversation, we want to set up ground rules. We are going to set up into groups,” Cloutier said. “Everyone has a space at the table and everyone can speak…[and] we’re going to be open and maintain a respective atmosphere.”
Each group discussed the pros and cons of different issues that come with immigration, including protecting the borders, promoting economic prosperity in the U.S. and greeting new immigrants arriving.
Sophomore Alexis Stoner was one among many students who attended the session. Though she originally came to the session as a requirement for one of her classes, she expressed interest in the issue. Before the session, she discussed her thoughts on President Trump’s recent immigration ban.
“I don’t think I necessarily agree with it,” Stoner began. “I think there are a lot of good people in bad areas and we should let them in… there are bad people too, but I don’t think he needs to keep everyone out.”
After the session, Stoner said that she was glad she attended.
“I think that was very helpful to me in understanding what’s going on. I mean, I wasn’t very educated when I first came into this, so it definitely helped me see the pros and cons of everything. It was helpful how they went over every issue.”
Senior communication major Lauren Taddei was another KSC student who attended the teach-in. She attended “Kick-Ass Journalists: Speaking Truth to Power,” taught by Dr. Marianne Salcetti and Dr. Rose Kundanis, as a class requirement.
During this teach-in, Salcetti and Kundanis took turns discussing different influential journalists and their importance to the subject itself.
“When you’re called a ‘kick-ass journalist,’ it is a very good compliment,” Salcetti said to begin the session.
Taddei said she enjoyed hearing about the different journalists whom Salcetti and Kundanis presented the works off.
“Sometimes when you go to events like this, they aren’t interesting and don’t hold your attention, but this had my attention the whole time and left me wanting to know more and more about each topic. I think that this was a really good event to be held, especially with everything going on in our country right now,” Taddei said.
Taddei found this session to be rewarding and said she was glad she went. She said, “I 100 percent think that there should be a teach-in held once a semester. It was extremely informative, and even though I had to go for a class, it wasn’t something that I was dreading.”
The teach-in allowed the KSC community to come together and discuss important issues that are relevant to what is currently going on in the world.
Grace Pecci can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org