Faculty shines light on social issues with roundtable discussions

Erica Young, sophomore in broadcasting, talks about pressing social issues with Katy Karlin, associate professor of English, at the College of Arts and Sciences Teach-In on Jan. 28 in the K-State Student Union Courtyard. (Allison Evans | The Collegian)

Students, faculty and community members gathered around tables in the K-State Student Union courtyard to discuss social issues as part of Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Week on Wednesday afternoon.

At each table, a different topic was discussed among the groups. Topics ranged from “State Violence and Resistance” to “LBGTQ Resource Center” to “Malcolm X and Ferguson.” People milled around, dipping in and out of discussions; the event was relaxed to promote a come-and-go environment.

“There are 12 tables,” Tanya Gonzalez, associate professor of English, said. “We’ve got Diversity in Children’s Literature all the way to thinking about racial profiling in Manhattan, really local stuff.”

The Teach-In was hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences with participation from various departments including English, American ethnic studies, history and sociology. Professors spoke with students about a range of social issues present today in society. Gonzalez said it was a nice collaboration between the departments.

Students were encouraged to discuss social issues with teachers and not only learn from them but share their own ideas. Nicholas Patterson, junior in mass communications, attended the Teach-in as part of a class trip to encourage learning about diversity. Although he was required to go, he said enjoyed the discussions.

“If not for class I would not have known about it,” Patterson said. “The main reason I enjoyed it was the professors, but we are drawn to these highly controversial topics.”

Among the faculty at the tables was Brandon Haddock, graduate student in geography and coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center. Haddock answered questions and brought up various issues.

“We were asked if we would be available to talk about LGBT issues and about some not talked about problems in the community,” Haddock said.

The Teach-in provided an opportunity for teachers to talk to young students and the surrounding community about different issues both nationally and locally.

“One of the best things faculty know how to do is teach about (these issues),” Gonzalez said. “It’s a chance for an informal or outside of the classroom space to discuss what is actually happening out there.”

After several student activist protests and the hot-button racial and social events of last fall, professors wanted to show that they care too.

“We are using this as a opportunity to teach and show our concern for these topics,” Gonzalez said. “We are hoping that it becomes a more regular event for Martin Luther King Jr. Week.”

My name is Jamie Teixeira and I am a senior English and journalism with a minor in Leadership. I am the president of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, a tutor at the K-State Writing Center,and a member of the K-State Tap Dance Ensemble. My future plans are to become an editor or publisher of children's literature. Outside of school I love to read and cuddle with my kitten, Bert.