Protest with poetry

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

Stephen Harnett, professor of undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois, lectured on the ways students can voice their opinions on political issues more effectively during “Teaching Citizenship in an Age of Terror,” in the Union Panorama East Room on Feb. 9.

His speech was part of the Peace and Conflict Lecture Series sponsored by the Department of Communication.

Hartnett said that even the simplest and most innocent activities, like poetry, picnics and plays, can act as a form of protest.

“We have to develop new genres of communication,” Hartnett said. “We need to start using art-like poetry and posters-to target people’s emotion.”

He said that the only way to change our concept of free speech is by changing the way classrooms are formatted. Classrooms are disastrous because they are mono-vocal and restricted from different views, he said.

“Students are asked to sit and listen and not talk unless it’s for 30 seconds,” Hartnett said. “Then students are given tests, given back results and supposedly, by this time, expected to have learned something.”

By hearing multiple voices in contradiction, students can learn how the different sides of important issues affect each other, said Sidney Carter, a junior in speech communication who attended the lecture.

“Most professors do not have a balanced teaching voice,” Carter said. “They teach us what they want us to think, not how to think.”

The first step toward creating multi-vocal activism is coming up with a different medium in which a student can express himself or herself more effectively, Hartnett said.

“A culture of active student engagement involves the student reclaiming the love for their work in whichever form that may come in,” Hartnett said.

Loving your work is the most important part of standing up for what you believe in, said Ann Darling, dean of the College of Humanities.

“Once students find ways to express themselves, it makes (them) instantly more passionate about their subject,” Darling said. “I know that we need a lot more student activism, and finding different ways to do it is great.”

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