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Common Experience kicks off summer dialogue series on activism

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As part of the Common Experience theme for the 2017-18 academic year, the LBJ Museum of San Marcos is hosting a series of summer dialogues on activism covering a wide range of topics on the issues of social justice.

The Common Experience at Texas State is an approach to creating a large-scale conversation on a theme each academic year through a series of events and dialogues, said Twister Marquiss, director of the Common Experience.

“Everyone enters Texas State with a unique background and unique direction, and the Common Experience gives us a means to find common ground by discussing and exploring a theme,” Marquiss said. “It is a way to bring together thousands of students, faculty, staff and community members.”

Sponsored in part by the philosophy department, the three-week series began June 9, with a second dialogue on June 16 and the last on June 23. The purpose of the forum is to facilitate discussion for activists, students, scholars and engaged citizens on ongoing efforts in social change.

Shannon Fitzpatrick, attorney for students, hopes the series will bring students and the San Marcos community together.

Each week presents two new topics per session lasting from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., with a 15-minute break period in between dialogues. Topics include Restorative Justice, DREAMers, public education and more. Attendees are encouraged to participate in the forum, but are not required.

Yunuen Alvarado, president of the Student Community of Progressive Empowerment (SCOPE), attended the dialogue in support of the DREAMers segment, which discussed the current political climate toward undocumented immigrants.

“Justice in general is very important to me,” Alvarado said. “I am a community organizer, so it is a personal issue for me that everyone, regardless of background or immigration status, has basic human rights.”

When creating the premise of the dialogue series, Jeff Helgeson, associate history professor, collaborated with members of the summer dialogue planning committee, including Diane McCabe, Jim Harrington and Greg Moses.

“We’ve been doing a series of dialogues on controversial issues for about a year and a half now,” Helgeson said. “We’ve had a lot of success in talking about a wide range of issues, and we wanted to create a bridge between one academic year and another, so a summer series seemed to make the most sense.”

Due to the early success of the summer series, the Common Experience team is considering implementing more dialogues in the fall semester. The dates and topics for these dialogues have not yet been confirmed.

Interested parties can go online to the university events calendar and follow @justicetalktxst and @TXSTCE on Twitter for more information.

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