Post-election teach-in to be held at SUNY Cortland

Old Main at SUNY Cortland (Photo credit: SUNY Cortland)

Old Main at SUNY Cortland (Photo credit: SUNY Cortland)

The following article was written by Victoria Boynton, an associate professor in the English Department at SUNY Cortland. If you would like to submit a press release, community announcement or information about an upcoming event, email Editor Peter Blanchard at pblanchard@cortlandvoice.com.

SUNY Cortland students, faculty, staff, and Cortland community members are coming together for a Post-Election Teach-in, What do we do now? Organizing for Action on Friday, December 2, 2016 from 4:00PM - 6:00PM in Old Main 209.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines teach-in as “a meeting for discussion on a subject of public interest, often held among college students.” A diverse group of campus community members has come together to support this teaching and learning event. The group also welcomes community members to attend.

The teach-in will provide strategies for organizing effectively. Those who attend will leave with practical strategies for action. The teach-in organizers intend to highlight concrete steps to take right away. Students, faculty, staff and organizations like NYPIRG will share information on issue work, including environmental protection, race relations, immigration reform, reproductive rights, First Amendment protection, higher education affordability, social welfare programs, and criminal justice reform.

Dr. Colleen Kattau, faculty moderator, and Joseph Mogavero, student moderator, will facilitate the discussion on post-election activism and NYPIRG coordinators, Skylin Baestlein and Alexandra Cicero will help organize roundtable discussion. “It is the third in a series of events for faculty, staff, and students who have a desire to discuss and work toward understanding where we are, following this election.  The teach-in is a way to build on critical arguments and observations that have come from the election, one that has left so many feeling alienated,” says Karla Alwes, Professor of English.

Joseph Mogavero, student in the English and Psychology programs, says “Policy-making is a dialectical process that requires informed arguments all across the political spectrum. It is important that we discuss serious political issues as an entire college community, so that we can equip ourselves with the right tools to advocate for our interests as individuals and as a public institution of higher education.”

Seth Asumah, Professor of Political Science, says that the teach-in will “interrogate the American national ethos as it relate to race, gender, immigration and the politics of difference during these times of perceived divisiveness. We are in a unique position as social justice advocates to deal with difficult dialogues. We must work with our students and each other to develop skills for handling controversies with civility as civic actors, mindful listeners and critical thinkers.” 

Caroline Kaltefleiter, Professor of Communication Studies, will share strategies for detecting and reporting fake (or faux) news: “overwhelmingly, what we’re finding is a void in understanding differences among sponsored content, native advertising, and authentic news reports. In this election, people shared stories from various social media platforms without checking sources.” She also advocates organizing media literacy programs in public schools.

Mecke Nagel, Professor of Philosophy, says her concern lies with “undocumented students and their family members and the psychological toll the current atmosphere takes. I’d like our administration and SUNY to send out reassuring messages as Cornell’s president just did.”

Henry Steck, Professor emeritus, Political Science, will provide a list of strategies “focusing on distinct policy issues.” He will speak to “persistent lobbying of our elected officials.” As Mary McGuire, Professor of Political Science says, “as members of a democratic society, members of the college community need to develop skills in both traditional and non-traditional ways of communicating with elected officials. They should leave college knowing everything from when and how to write effective letters to members of Congress to when and how to organize a protest.

This teach-in will help participants find ways to connect with other concerned individuals at this time. We have much to teach each other and plenty to learn in our efforts to organize for principled action. All are invited to participate.

For more information, contact Prof. Karla Alwes, Karla.Alwes@cortland.edu, Prof. Victoria Boynton, victoria.boynton@cortland.edu, or Skylin Baestlein sbaestlein@nypirg.org.