Club & Greek
- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 08 February 2017
- Written by ELYSIA WHRITENOUR | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
On Tuesday, Jan. 31 the Student Activities Board hosted the screening of the Academy Award nominated documentary 13th, directed by Ava DuVernay. A panel discussion, consisting of two formerly incarcerated individuals, Mike Satterfield and Charita Easter-Fetor, followed the film.
Centered on race in the United States criminal justice system, 13th is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment which outlawed slavery, unless as punishment for a crime. Home to 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration.
The film gives an in depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality. DuVernay’s documentary argues that slavery is being effectively perpetuated through mass incarceration.
The Student Activities Board has a section devoted to diversity, and the primary goal is to execute events that bring cultural awareness to the Monmouth community.
For this event the goal was to expose students to the racial injustices taking place in our prison systems and make them aware that not all criminals are the bad people the media portrays them to be. 13th was released in 2016, making this a hot topic right now in the United States.
Dr. Novek, Ph.D. from the Department of Communication, has been actively involved in bringing this topic to campus and letting students hear from individuals who were formerly incarcerated.
When asked about the importance of having conversations like this within the Monmouth community Crystalyn Espinal, Assistant Director of Student Activities, said, “I strongly believe college is the perfect time to attend programs that you might not otherwise have gone to. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself and sometimes challenge your own worldviews. My hope is that students to learn, grow, challenge norms, and most importantly feel comfortable asking questions that may often make others uncomfortable so that they can form their own viewpoints and opinions.”
Being able to sit and listen to the experiences of Mike and Charita was an incredible opportunity and an eye opening experience. Both speakers spoke on their feelings towards the film. Charita commented that it “nearly brought her to tears”.
Alicia Torello, senior communicatios student, said, “13th was a fantastic event that I am extremely proud to have been a part of and able to attend. The panel discussion following the film was able to humanize and personalize the crooked prison system. The speakers gave a face and voice to the people the film talked about.”
Those who attended the event had the chance to ask the guest speakers questions during the discussion. David Glass, junior history student, said, “The most powerful part was to understand the fact that many incarcerated individuals are not bad people and only did what they did because they felt as though they had no other choice. The criminal justice system is much larger than mere crime and punishment; there are underlying systems and reasons that bring individuals to make the choices they make.”
The guest speakers gave their closing remarks and thanked the Student Activities Board for this opportunity. Executive board members had the honor of chatting with Charita and Mike following the event.
Both expressed great appreciation for being able to share their stories on our campus. They were so happy to see college students participating in conversations like this and finding ways to educate others.