A humanities symposium will be held on Sept. 14 at the Paff Auditorium in Providence, bringing together people of the public, students and scholars to talk about student-led protests as an important player in society.
There will be three different panels throughout the day, which will all include remarks on the theory and practice of student protests. Two panels will be paper panels, which means three different people are giving academic papers to the participants to discuss. One focuses on art in relation to protest while another cites past protests on academic campuses.
The third panel starts with an academic paper from Paul Bueno de Mesquita, a professor of Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island. In his paper, he discusses successful student protest along with one of his students, Thupten Tendhar. After this, there will be a roundtable discussion to talk about the topics at hand.
Earl Smith, the assistant dean for student affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, will be attending the symposium to discuss topics such as successful student protests.
“Student protest and activism are and have been the catalyst for the transformation of many societies,” Smith said. “They are important because they have challenged existing political and cultural norms throughout history, forcing society to redefine and expand conceptions of freedom and democracy.”
In the 1990’s Earl Smith, alongside other members on campus took over Taft Hall in order to protest the quotes used when the library was remodeled. The quotes which are taken from Malcolm X, are not attributed and have slight modifications. Because of this, these students took over Taft Hall and renamed it Malcolm X Hall.
The symposium ends with a keynote speaker, Manja Klemenčič, a professor from Harvard who studies student protests. She will speak about student power.
During the day, there will be materials from the University of Rhode Island Archives on display and an artist who will do his own performative art focused on social issues.
Catherine Winters, a Ph.D. student focusing on Contemporary American Literature, is one of the five graduate students who are the creators of this Symposium.
“Everything is so tense, every time you look at the news it seems like there are 20 things that went wrong that day,” Winters said.
Winters continued that they wanted to create an event that, “could give you a moment of solace and then empowers you to take real action.”