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Saint Mary’s students dialogue about propoganda, hate speech in Chicago

| Monday, February 3, 2014

Last weekend, 10 Saint Mary’s students attended the What You Do Matters (WYDM) Summit at the Field Museum in Chicago.
Students from Chicago area universities and Saint Mary’s engaged in dialogue about the Holocaust, propaganda and hate speech, while inspiring students to recognize the way contemporary society is still dealing with the aftermath, first-year Molly Franklin said.

Franklin said based on her application for the summit organizers contacted her prior to the conference about speaking on a student panel Saturday, the first day of the conference.

Her youngest brother was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old, and Franklin said she began her advocacy for the special needs community when she was in middle school.

“I imagined a situation where someone would say [‘retarded’] to my brother, and he would understand it and be hurt by it,” Franklin said.

When Franklin applied for the WYDM Summit she had not expected to be contacted to speak, but it was because of that request she said she learned how important her work for the special needs community is.

“I never really thought about what I was doing as work,” Franklin said. “But I realize that there are whole communities dealing with hate speech.”

Franklin said she spoke on a panel of three other students who had faced and worked for varying causes on their campuses including LGBTQ issues and Holocaust denial.

The WYDM Summit covered a variety of issues and propelled students to thinking about what action needs to be taken on their own campuses with a closing session creating action plans, she said.

Franklin said she learned about the issue of contemporary propaganda and how to engage in effective dialogue. During the conference, dialogue was defined as a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn, she said.

“It is important that we talk about dialogue because it’s not something that we utilize enough,” Franklin said.

At the end of the conference Franklin said she took away valuable lessons and hopes to be able to apply them to her experience in the special needs community.

“Propaganda is still a huge issue,” Franklin said. “People are afraid of what they don’t understand and the special needs community needs more understanding.”

About Haleigh Ehmsen

A senior at Saint Mary's, Haleigh is majoring in Communication Studies and English Literature & Writing. She serves as the Saint Mary's editor and enjoys coffee, guacamole and good books.

Contact Haleigh