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Friday, September 24, 2021

Graduate Student Association holds Nov. 18 open mic forum on the Quad

On Monday, an open mic forum was held on the Quad in commemoration of the pepper spraying incident that occurred last Nov. 18. Organized by the Graduate Student Association (GSA), the event was held in hopes of reflecting on last November’s protest and discussing changes that need to be made in order to prevent such problems from arising again.

Jordan Carroll, GSA vice chair and a Ph.D. student in the English department, said that while discussion regarding the Nov. 18 pepper spray incident was on the agenda, the open mic event was also meant as an opportunity for students to discuss other issues that they felt pertinent.

“We hope to provoke dialogue and critical discussion about the Nov. 18 pepper spray incident, the decisions and actions that led to it and the response in its aftermath. Additionally, we seek to invite ideas and comments on broader issues of free speech, student fees and policing on campus,” Carroll said.

Speeches were given by both students and faculty regarding the pepper spray incident, as well as other issues.

Ian Lee, a student who was involved in last year’s protest and was pepper sprayed, gave a speech in which he discussed the importance of fighting the privatization of campus.

“The regents are selling our university without our consent. [Last year’s] incident was ultimately caused by university privatization plans,” Lee said.

Topics discussed throughout the event varied, including the pepper spray incident and incidences of racial discrimination on campus.

While many points of view were heard at the open mic forum and some opinions clashed, many speakers called for awareness and mobility in order to enact positive changes within the campus community.

Speakers also discussed political awareness about conflicts in the Middle East.

Andrew Nelson, a third-year psychology major who attended the open mic event, said that he appreciated the student involvement.

“I like the activity on campus … and the political awareness,” Nelson said.

Phil Jones, a second-year economics major, explained his hesitation to stand on one side of the issue.

“I don’t think that any speaker brought in is going to represent everyone at the same time. [Anyone] is going to be a little bit radical on either side of the issue, because they want to fire people up,” Jones explained. “I don’t think anyone should take a 100 percent stance on either side of this issue.”

A protest about the Israeli-Gaza conflict took place later in the afternoon on the Quad and led to a short occupation of Dutton Hall.

JESSICA GRILLI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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