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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie Agora to discuss issues of race, class and gender this semester

The theme for this years Aggie Agora lecture series will focus on topics such as race, class and gender.
Photo by Courtesy

The theme for this year’s Aggie Agora lecture series will focus on topics such as race, class and gender.

Encouraging critical thinking about race, class and gender issues is the focus of this year’s Aggie Agora series “Hidden Figures,” which will be supplemented by the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly.
This theme was selected to support the College of Liberal Arts’ Common Ground Reading program, an ongoing initiative to create a learning community amongst students based on a shared reading experience.
The series will kick off on Sept. 22 and will feature a variety of speakers, including Shetterly, Reverend Kenyatta R. Gilbert, Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Texas and Martín Carcasson, a professor of communication studies from Colorado State University.
Director of Aggie Agora Jennifer Mercieca said she thought it would be great to use Shetterly’s book title as a focus for Aggie Agora’s lectures series, which will shed light on individuals that are hidden, suppressed or overlooked.
“Our goal is to help Aggie Agora attendees think critically about issues and also to be engaged citizens,” Mercieca said. “My hope is that all will feel welcome to join us and share their opinions and learn from one another.​”
Mercieca said public discourse on either side of the political spectrum has become quite isolated in our country today. She hopes this year’s theme will encourage positive conversations regardless of political affiliation.
“I worry that if we don’t start talking together about difficult issues that we will continue to polarize and never relearn to trust one another or solve problems together,” Mercieca said. “Aggie Agora tries to provide a space for conversations that enable critical thinking, engagement and also trust and common ground.”
Political science senior Alexander Rodriguez attended two Aggie Agora events last year and said he looks forward to this year’s lecture series. Rodriguez said events like Aggie Agora help foster a more respectful climate on campus.
“I think these conversation are always important to have everywhere, whether at home or at school, and even at work,” Rodriguez said. “They are important to me because they allow marginalized voices the space to air out their perspectives in a positive way. I am really excited for Dr. Carcasson’s lecture on training impartial community advocates.”
Sociology sophomore Marcus McGruder said he applauds Aggie Agora for giving students a safe environment to discuss difficult topics. McGruder said this year’s “Hidden Figures” theme is a timely subject of discussion, especially in the wake of white nationalist and white supremacist events across the country, including a since-cancelled event originally scheduled to take place on the A&M campus.
“I’ve heard stories and have witnessed first hand racism committed by my fellow Aggies,” McGruder says. “The fact that white supremacist Preston Wiginton feels comfortable enough to use our campus as his breeding ground for his racist propaganda, makes these type of conversations of the utmost importance. This is why speaking on critical topics such as race, class and gender are so important. Aggie Agora has been phenomenal in that regard. They provide the space and opportunity for constructive dialogue and do so in a nonpartisan way.”

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