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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, June 21, 2024

Tufts to host forum in response to Brown and Garner grand jury decisions

A university-wide forum will be held this morning, Feb. 25, to examine race, inequality and action. It will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at theGantcher Center and will feature two panel discussions with a consortium of Tufts professors.

The forum will explore what the Office of the Provost recognizes as a need to understand what has happened in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions, "how responses have varied across individuals and groups, what the critical underlying issues are and what can be done to advance our society so that similar situations do not happen again,” according to the office's website.

Provost and Senior Vice President David Harris explained that he and Professor of History Peniel Joseph had the idea to have an open meeting of panelists, faculty and students to discuss these issues. Joseph will serve as one of the event's panelists.

Professor Keith Maddox has also played a major role in the planning of the event as a subject expert and advisor to the Provost,” Harris added.

Harris recalled the service held at Goddard Chapel after the Brown grand jury decision. He said he remembered an undergraduate student from St. Louis who said that she posted on Facebook about the decision and was troubled by the response she received from her white relatives in the area.

“When you think about the role of the university, our role is education … the emanation of knowledge,” Harris explained. He added that these grand jury decisions are representative of larger trends that need to be addressed, and that his experiences interacting with students who have struggled to respond to recent events influenced the development of the forum.

The forum's organizers hope that it will raise consciousness, prevent negative outcomes and engage the entire Tufts community, according to Harris. The forum is not about defining what is right or wrong, he added.

“[The forum] will bring us together,” Harris said.

The event is designed to be inclusive both for people who consider themselves activists on the subject and those who do not, according to Harris, who emphasized that different people understand the complex system differently.

“No one places out of [the forum],” Harris added.

Associate Provost Boris Hasselblatt has been running logistics and planning content with students in preparation for the event.

“[The event on Wednesday] creates a hunger to follow on,” Hasselblatt said.

Hasselblatt is excited about the forum and its potential to spark change across the Tufts campuses.

“I look forward to it … I want to thank the panelists for their hard work in planning for the forum,”  he said.

The forum will be recorded and made available online on the Office of the Provost website, where it will be accessible to all members of the Tufts community, according to Harris.

Harris said he feels that this is neither the end nor the beginning of the conversation.

“[The forum] is an important step in the process in understanding issues on race, inequality and action,” he said.

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