Tuesday evening in the Boyd Recital Hall, Rowan students, faculty and staff gathered together for a discussion hosted by the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution (SJICR). The topic for the event was about understanding the violence that had taken place in Charlottesville, Virginia several weeks before the start of the semester.
The purpose of the event was to hopefully bring members of the university community together in dialogue to begin understanding the aftermath of the incident and reconcile its impact on the world.
The event was broken down into several segments. These segments included group discussions and presentations containing information concerning what caused the rally to become violent. Joining the talks were Rowan professors introducing their own explanatory presentations on topics relating to the issue, such as white supremacy and the foundations of the Nazi ideology.
During the group discussion portion of the event, students were encouraged to get up and share their thoughts on what had transpired. Many of them echoed the same sentiment, that this moment in current events marked a dark stain on the American historical record. But in this fear, there was hope that the moment could mark a turnaround towards a more civil national discourse.
That sentiment was echoed by senior history major Chris Previti, who said that while people sometimes can’t be swayed from their ideology, discussion of events like this can sometimes be a stepping stone towards a more tolerant society.
“What we did here tonight [was important],” Previti said. “You just have to talk about it. In terms of preventing it, if someone really wanted to do something, they’re going to do it and that’s kind of like the sad truth of things. It’s difficult to really prevent it, but you just kind of have to do the best you can.”
Dr. Jennifer Rich, an assistant professor in the department of interdisciplinary and inclusive education and the co-director for Rowan’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, said this event held dual significance for her.
“It was important to me personally as the grandchild of [Holocaust] survivors,” Rich said. “And it was important to me, professionally, to be a part of helping the Rowan community learn more about what happened in Charlottesville, and perhaps how we can think about combating it in the future.”
After the discussion wrapped up, there was a candlelight vigil service lasting approximately 15 minutes, during which attendees moved outside to the Wilson Hall patio.
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