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America's race for a solution

Students from the Leavitt Center meet weekly to work together and help students at SUU express themselves, through hosting special topic discussions, pizza and politics and other engaging ways to positively promote issues of today.

Students from the Leavitt Center meet weekly to work together and help students at SUU express themselves, through hosting special topic discussions, pizza and politics and other engaging ways to positively promote issues of today. Photo by Adam Black.

To wrap up Martin Luther King Jr. week, the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service hosted a panel discussion about race issues in America last Thursday in the Sterling Church Auditorium. Two professors of political science and two students were invited to share their experiences and offer solutions to this issue.

According to Sydney Warick, a student executive council member of the Leavitt Center, the two professors of political science, Michael Stathis and Angela Pool-Funai, were chosen based on the classes they have taught and their own life experiences. The two students, Justin Douglas and Matt Laws, were chosen based on experiences as well, and the student organizations they are part of.

“I hope that through coming to this panel and listening to what they have to say,” said Warick, “they (the students) feel empowered to go and make a difference and not just sit back and listen to what’s going on but go and make a change.”

Justin Douglas started the panel by focusing on the importance of identity. As a black student, member of the LDS Church and the LGBT community, Justin shared how he experienced being part of these different groups that people usually have a hard time seeing working together.

“We are so intent upon thinking that somebody can only be A, B or C,” he said, “but we don’t really think that somebody can be A, B and C. We are so intent upon categorizing somebody as ‘either or’ instead of ‘both and.’”

For Douglas, the key is to accept people with their different backgrounds and stories, and put established stereotypes concerning the inability of simultaneously being part of different groups aside.

“If we can learn to put aside our differences,” he said, “if we can learn to accept that other people have more to their story, if we can learn to embrace our own and other people’s identities, then I think that we can create a better campus, a better society and a better world.”

Matt Laws shared stories from his life and the injustices he has noticed growing up as a black child. According to Laws, there are two essential steps to take to start seeing a change: education to minorities and the end of police brutality.

Referring to a quote from President Barack Obama, pointing out that there were more black men in prison than in American Colleges, Laws said black men are not equal in education and it is, according to him, the main issue.

To wrap up Martin Luther King Jr. week, the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service hosted a panel discussion about race issues in America last Thursday in the Sterling Church Auditorium. Two professors of political science and two students were invited to share their experiences and offer solutions to this issue.

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