The second annual Teach-In on Tuesday, Sept. 26, gave students and faculty the time to pause every day routines and have conversations that don’t always fit into the daily classroom schedule.
This years’ theme was titled, “Insider/Outsider Dilemma,” and presentations throughout the day were based around this.
The all-day event began in the morning in the Flag Room with opening remarks from the Coordinator of the Office of Multicultural Student Support and Success Rocio Mora, Interim President Dr. Melinda Treadwell and Student Body Vice President Sarah Dugas.
Mora was a part of the planning committee for the Teach-In.
“I have been a part of the committee since we initially thought of this idea and it has just been a joy to be a part of it. It’s really the entire community; it’s not just one or two professors or a couple staff members, it’s everyone,” Mora said.
She said the committee puts in a lot of thought about dates when planning this event, making it possible for the majority of campus to be able to attend.
Mora said, “Trying to make sure we steer clear of midterms, finals, any holidays, but clearly it’s not going to happen on the first day of school, but really what we feel would be best for the community. We pick a date based on that and then we just kind of fly with it and then we decide on a specific topic that is also general enough that really lets people be really creative in the type of sessions that they give.”
Mora said compared to last year, the committee has more program proposals than they did the previous year, which she considers “phenomenal.”
She added the programs are all varied and cover the whole spectrum.
“It’s just great, it shows how much this community is just wanting to get together and have these types of conversations in a safe way and knowing that, ‘Okay, yeah you might be complete opposite of me, you might hate everything I stand for, but we can still stand here and talk to each other and be very respectful of one another and still break brand. We can still breathe the same air and be in the same room.’ There’s so much difference in this world, why do we have to contain it?” Mora said.
Mora said she sees the importance of having the Teach-In on campus.
She said, “I think Keene State is really setting itself up for a great future in how the Teach-In is going to impact campus life. There’s going to be more students wanting to present, more faculty members wanting to jump in and say, ‘Hey I have this great idea.’ That’s what we want.”
Mora continued, “Of course, we would love for this to be a cancel all classes and we have 300 sessions going on; that would be incredibly insane for us, but that would be amazing at the same time. It’s giving people the space…to have that opportunity to say what is on their mind.”
Senior secondary education and English major Heather Bilodeau attended the Teach-In last year and decided to go again this year.
“As a future teacher, it’s really important to be a part of the community of teachers, I think. We have so many intelligent and very well-versed professors on campus; it’s important to go and listen to what their experiences are and what they have to say. They know so much more than we do and we can learn so much,” Bilodeau said. Bilodeau went to a presentation by Emily Sharpe last year and planned to do so again this year.
“It makes you really think about your identity as a student on campus and also just in the world in general. It was kind of an outsiders within perspective and is what she is kind of aiming towards in this session as well and maybe a furthering of it. She is a Canadian immigrant, so she talked about immigrants and she is also Jewish, so she kind of has the double edge sword if you will or being sort of a foreigner in the country,” Bilodeau said.
Bilodeau said she believes it’s important we have the Teach-In because of the diversity Keene State has on it’s campus.
She said, “we need to be aware and welcoming and if there are going to be more people that come on to campus whether they be a refugee or an immigrant or someone just traveling we should learn to be welcoming.”
Interim President Dr. Melinda Treadwell was able to be here for her first Teach-In at Keene State.
“For me, what’s exciting about it is, as I said in the introduction, is it’s the chance like with the topic insider outsider, it’s the chance for us to extend our classroom and to engage our students in real open conversation of topics you might not get in a class. It’s the chance to make our classroom walls fall apart, disappear and students actually getting conversation in a different way. That’s what I like about it and I’m hoping I can get to some sessions today,” Treadwell said.
She added she was very excited for the day ahead.
Treadwell said, “The topics look great, they’re all connected, but they just go deeper on topics like white supremacy [and] stereotypes; it’s just really exciting.”
In years to come, Treadwell has hopes this continues on campus.
“Our students love it from everything I am hearing. If it’s as strong for students as it is for me and my staff and faculty, then I definitely want it to keep happening,” Treadwell said.
Emma Hamilton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org