TED Talks on 9/11 delivered at Eastern Wednesday

Imani Tapley, Staff Reporter

With tables filled in the University Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union, students and staff gathered to discuss what impacts 9/11 has had during the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteerism’s “Chasing the American Dream” series.

After signing in, students were able to sit at any table of their choice, receiving cookies and a warm meal before the event began.

Yasmine Ben Miloud, a graduate student studying science and sustainable energy said, “I came to this event because I love TED Talks and I thought it would be interesting to hear something like this.”

The audience was greeted by Alex Martens, a senior graduate assistant in the Civic Engagement and Volunteerism office.

“Tonight marks our first TED Talk for our new ‘Chasing the American Dream’ series,” Martins said.

The first speaker was Jeffrey Ashley, a professor from the political science department, he discussed how the effects of 9/11 changed immigration.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” Ashley said.

Ashley talked about looking back into history.

“People decided that they didn’t want to share their freedom with other people; they don’t want to have their way of life threatened by people that are different than them,” Ashley said.

He said people are afraid of not being in control.

Discussing looks, speech and religious differences lead to the next speaker.

Edmund Wehrle, a professor in the history department, discussed the current day impacts of Islamophobia.

“The value of religious freedom has deeper roots in American history than just about any other value,” Wehrle said. “It has been essential from the beginning.”

The audience began to interact when Wehrle said all men are created equal and people that came to America were looking for religious freedom.

He went through a timeline of the violence that occurred because of the religions that people chose.

“The first Muslims that came to the United States were slaves,” Wehrle said. “Larger numbers of Muslims came to the United States in the 19th century but then changed over time to different religions.”

The last speaker of the evening was Shawn Peoples from the Office of Civil Rights and Diversity, and she talked about free speech rights.

She touched on a few things that people might not know about freedom of speech.

“We encourage the freedom of expression,” Peoples said. “There are going to be people that disagree with you and that’s okay; we want people to engage in dialogue.”

She said she does not want to stipple people on speeches that we agree or disagree with.

When talking about the freedom of speech, Peoples went straight into the First Amendment then provided her expectations for future debates and dialogue.

“We do expect that when we are having these conversations that we have a speaker, that they bring forth some controversial ideas,” Peoples said. “We also do our scholarly debate with respect.”

When finishing, all eyes were glued to Beth Gillespie, the Director in the Office of Civil Engagement and Volunteerism, who ended the night by thanking all of the people that participated in the evening and invited everyone to the next TED Talk in October.

The next TED Talk will occur at 7th Street Underground Oct. 1 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Imani Tapley can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]