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Second Annual College of Arts & Sciences Civil Rights Teach-In, Jan. 27

By Thomas Webb
Communications Intern

As a part of MLK Observance Week at Kansas State University, the College of Arts & Sciences is holding its second annual Civil Rights Teach-In on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 12 p.m. in the Leadership Studies Building Town Hall. The college invites students, faculty, staff and Manhattan community members to join faculty members from the college in engaging discussions that explore current social justice issues both nationally and in inside Riley County.

“This is an opportunity to raise the awareness of students about the civil rights and social justice issues, past and present.” said Kimathi Choma, Interim Assistant Dean for Diversity, Recruitment, and Retention for the College of Arts & Sciences.

With topics discussing the misrepresentations of Native Americans as mascots, racial bias in relation to marijuana arrest rates in Riley County, art and social justice, and hip hop’s relationship with black politics and culture, the event looks not just to increase awareness, but also to promote an understanding and acceptance of diversity.

Accepting growing diversity is something that Lt. Col. Shawnn Martin, Aerospace Studies Department Head and College of Arts & Sciences Diversity Committee Chair, says will pay off for students down the line.

“By opening conversations and discussions, our students will be better prepared when they find themselves working with individuals with different backgrounds or perspectives,” Martin said.

Diversity is a topic of increasing importance in society and on college campuses, highlighted by recent events at universities around the nation. There has been a growing push for college campuses to take charge in exposing students to the multitude of experiences their peers have. Choma said that the university is one of the most important places to hold these types of conversations.

“It is very important, especially on college campuses, to hold events that discuss issues of social justice and diversity because colleges are microcosms of world populations,” said Choma. “College campuses are places where people are learning to think critically about the issues of the day and it is necessary to take the time to focus on these topics that may not be discussed in the regular classroom. Students are able to learn about the experiences and prospective of other people during events like the Teach-In, while developing critical thinking skills and empathy.”