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The Carletonian

Presentations draw large crowds at first Symposium

<rleton’s first student symposium kicked off on the Saturday of midterm break in the Library Athenaeum. The idea of the symposium was devised by Samuel Robson, who wanted Carleton students to have a forum in which they could come forward and share their experiences, research, and ideas.

The symposium was held on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and had eight speakers on both days, each presenting for 30 minutes. The first presentation featured speakers such as Chelsea Clifford on her experience witnessing contention at a shrimp farm in Madagascar, Orion Martin on Carleton’s new curriculum, Julia Bradley on youth and the Islamic broadcast media in Jordan, and Kenneth Coleman. Rebecca Gourevitch and Christa Owens presented a documentary on Environmental Justice in New Orleans, which was born out of a fall term freshmen seminar whose participants went to New Orleans during the winter break to substantiate what they had read in class.

Adam Anderson played music clips and busted out dance moves during his presentation on house music and its influence on dance and culture. Libbie Weimer screened “May They Not Suffer As I Have,” a documentary about urban indigenous women in La Paz. Weimer made this documentary along with a Harvard student in Bolivia; the documentary focused on how indigenous women in Bolivia suffer from discrimination according to the dress they wear. Sarah Van Etten also showed a documentary about a Bolivian weaving association, titled “The Memories They Weave”. Jessica Schueler gave a presentation on “El Camino de Santiago” or “The Road to Santiago”.

Presentations on Sunday February 8 included one by Campus Alliance Against Gun Violence, Thomas Brenner’s Achieving High Efficiency in Multijunction Solar Cells and Ari Kiener’s The Costs of Development: A Tale of an American Suburb and a Thai Village.

The athenaeum was packed as Sam Robson and Arpita Bhattacharyya, in the presentation titled, “Blood on Our Hands: US Foreign Policy in Central America,” spoke about how US foreign policy has led to a brutal civil war in Nicaragua and how we as citizens should remember that the guilt lies equally on us. Whitney Hough, Aparna Dua and Moshe Lavi’s presentation on the Sudan Divestment focused on the Sudan divestment group, which persuades companies to stop their investment in companies of the Sudanese government, which is supporting a civil war in which people living in the south of Sudan are being terrorized by the northern army. While many colleges and companies have removed their investments, Carleton yet has to respond. Nathan Yaffe gave a presentation on Scholar-Activism during which he discussed how privileged we really are in our opportunity to receive an education which very few people in the world have.

Alexander Persaud, a senior history major, presented his research on Walter Rodney, History, and the Dialectic. Lipi Gupta’s presentation on climate change and women around the world was inspired by a session she attended on climate change. The last presentation of the weekend was given by Hannah Breckbill about her experience in Palestine.

The speakers also answered questions after their presentations and often ended up running over time because of the quantity of views and ideas being discussed. “It was a very positive atmosphere. Students were discussing issues and learning things from each other,” said Anushka Patel, a freshman in attendance.

The symposium was a major success. Students were not the only ones in attendance; many faculty and staff also came to many of the presentations. According to Sam Robson, “It was not just people going to support their friends, but students who’d never met coming together to learn from each other. I know I learned a great deal from other students, and the symposium afforded me the opportunity to talk about something that’s very important to me – US foreign policy in Nicaragua.”

Students could be seen hanging around after the presentations discussing topics while munching on snacks and drinks provided by the OCS office. Robson says that “The symposium couldn’t have happened without all the students who helped to plan it, putting up banners in Sayles and writing ads in the NNB — those students and all the presenters helped create a new space for Carleton students to share their interests, and I look forward to the symposium happening again in the future.”

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