First EIU ‘Ted Talk’ to kick off on Wednesday

Logan Raschke, Managing Editor

Students can attend the first EIU Ted Talk to participate in civic discussion Wednesday about how 9/11 changed immigration policies, how Islamophobia has shifted over years and what freedom of speech entails.

Beth Gillespie, director of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, said immigration is an extremely relevant topic right now because of President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance policy.

She said many people in the U.S., including herself, cannot talk about it without having some emotional response.

She said this is just one reason she believes it is important to discuss it in a safe, neutral environment with students.

“…(It) makes it hard if you have an emotional response to talk to somebody in a neutral and a completely open way to learn and to engage with someone, “ Gillespie said. “So we wanted to approach something that was a current issue but in a way that didn’t illicit that same kind of emotional response.”

What happened on 9/11 has also had an effect on immigration and Islamophobia, Gillespie said.

“After 9/11, the growth and just the explosion of being afraid of people who were perceived as Muslim; I mean, it just exploded in our county, and that is still happening,” she said. “We just want to talk about something that happened 20 years ago that is still having a day-to-day impact for people who are in our country, for people on our campus and students at EIU.”

Gillespie said free speech is another important current issue because while Americans are proud of their rights, they do not always know exactly what they entail and where they end. This EIU Ted Talk will shed light on that, too.

Gillespie and Crystal Brown, assistant director of the office, both said all conversations had during this and future EIU Ted Talks will be argument-free and civil.

Having a safe space to talk about important issues of the past and present and to encourage students to engage civically as a response to them is the whole purpose of the EIU Ted Talks, they said.

Brown said students should attend the EIU Ted Talk because staying educated about these current issues is important to engaging civically in the community.

Gillespie said students should go because many of them may not have a frame of reference for the issues discussed even though they affect the American population at large.

“As a white, cis-gendered person, I have not experienced what it is like to have racist comments made to me, so if I haven’t experienced it and I’m not aware of it because I haven’t experienced it, how can I recognize it and how can I do something about it?” Gillespie said.

Everyone should pre-register online before they go to the EIU Ted Talk, Gillespie said.

The first 50 students to register online will get dinner for free, she said. The office will serve tacos, chips and salsa. At the time of the Sept. 6 interview, Gillespie said 38 people had already registered online.

Gillespie said doors for the first EIU Ted Talk would open at 5 p.m., and each guest speaker will have 10 minutes or less to talk. It should be over no later than 6:30 p.m.

The guest speakers will begin the talk around 5:45 p.m. Guest speakers include Shawn Peoples, Title IX Coordinator, Brian Mann, interim coordinator for Social Science Teaching and Jeff Ashley, political science professor.

The first EIU Ted Talk will take place at the University Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

The EIU Ted Talks are a part of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism’s Chasing the American Dream Series, where students engage in civil discussion of important current issues with educators in a safe place.

The next EIU Ted Talk will be on Oct. 1 at the 7th Street Underground. Dates for the rest of the Chasing the American Dream events can be found on Eastern’s website. Gillespie said the website will be updated in case information for the events should change.

Logan Raschke can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].