Solidarity rally explores “larger world outside Gettysburg College”

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By Benjamin Pontz, News Editor

Jerome Clarke and Davis Healy are searching for the ever-elusive pause button. On Wednesday, they hope to find it.

Clarke and Healy, both seniors, along with a cadre of fellow students representing a variety of clubs and disciplines, are planning a day-long “Student Solidarity Rally” that aims to provide space for members of the campus community to pause, engage, and discuss the issues facing America and the world today.

From 8 AM until 8 PM, the rally will be held in the College Union Building’s ballroom, and various teach-ins will be conducted by members of the college faculty on issues such as climate change and the Environmental Protection Agency, the coalescence of a presidential administration focused on “law and order” with the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, and information on how to contact representatives and take direct political action.

Although the event coincides with a nationwide student day of student protest and resistance coordinated by Grinnell College in Iowa, organizers at Gettysburg have reframed the event to be less partisan and focus more on education and engagement. By inviting professors to conduct teach-ins and ensuring the event does not turn into a political protest, organizers hope to reach a broader cross section of the college community.

“The semester starts, and we’re all just swamped by work and everything we do. There’s obviously a way that everyone gets their information,” says Davis Healy, the planning committee’s spokesperson. “We don’t always have the time or the willingness to delve into these issues, and by getting people who are experts in this field, we can get a more comprehensive understanding of these issues,” he said.

Clarke concurs, adding that on a college campus, students can feel isolated from the world around them and even convince themselves that nothing of consequence is happening, which increases the importance of deliberate engagement.

“It’s going to be political, but not partisan,” Clarke explains. “It’s critical. This is our government, and we are citizens, and we should have an understanding of what our government is and how it might affect us. We should critique our government. That’s the premise of politics. That’s what this is about. That is what it is. What we’ve tried to say is that, if all these things happened and the other person (i.e. Hillary Clinton) won, we’d still have this event. We’re trying to get the college to stop in its tracks and realize there’s a larger world outside Gettysburg College.”

Healy quickly chimed in with a smirk — perhaps indicating personal experience — to note that realizing a larger world exists beyond Gettysburg “can be hard when you are up at 2 AM working on linear algebra homework.”

A full schedule for the event is included below. Organizers hope students will come for as much of the day as they are able, but they emphasize that no one should “fail their life” by missing an exam, an Ash Wednesday service, or other important event. Some professors are bringing their classes to the ballroom during one of the sessions.

Asked whether they have met resistance from faculty or administrators in the event, Clarke conceded that “silent resistance” from people who “just aren’t going to do that” always exists, but he is hopeful that people will take advantage of any gaps in their schedule to learn about the world around them.

The Gettysburgian will have live coverage on Facebook, Twitter, and gettysburgian.com throughout the day with updates on the presentations, attendance, and impact.

Tentative Schedule

9:00AM – 9:45AM: Climate Change and the EPA (Sarah Principato and Salma Monani).
10:00AM – 10:45AM: Changes in DACA (LASA).
11:00AM – 11:45AM: Congressional Politics and Economics (Charles Weise and Bruce Larson).
12:00PM – 12:45PM: Lunch, and Ash Wednesday Services
1:00PM – 1:45PM: Changes in the Department of Education (Dave Powell, Brent Talbot, Jon Danchik).
2:00PM – 2:45PM: Law and Order Administration and the Movement for Black Lives (McKinley Melton, Scott Hancock, and Farouk Oni).
3:00PM – 3:45PM: Standing Rock is Still Happening (David Walsh and Students for Indigenous Awareness).
4:00PM – 4:45PM: Title IX Imperiled (Jennifer McCary and Kristina Chamberlain).
5:00PM – 5:45PM: Dinner and Ash Wednesday Services
6:00PM – 6:45PM: How to Contact Your Representatives, and the NEA/NEH funding crisis (College Independents and SAI).

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 serves as managing news editor of The Gettysburgian, a position he has held since the middle of his first year, during which he wrote 50 articles on topics ranging from student activism on campus to sports. Ben also served as the event coverage and social media coordinator and led the paper's inaugural efforts using Facebook Live and live tweeting events on campus. He is a political science and public policy double major with a minor in music, and he reads up to seven newspapers daily. Follow him on Twitter @benpontz.

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