• By Tyler Luban

Campus and Community Dialogues ‘Statues of Dead White Men: Do They Matter?’

Minot State University is set to host the fifth edition of Campus and Community Dialogues on Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 7-9 p.m.

The event’s topic, titled “Statues of Dead White Men: Do the Matter?” is set to focus on the past and the correlation to systematic racism in today’s American society. A panel will lead the discussion and will consist of Minot State History Professor Bethany Andreasen, Forum News Service columnist Rob Port, and State Historical Society of North Dakota Director Bill Peterson. Each panelist will spend seven to eight minutes presenting their views before opening to questions, comments, and back-and-forth dialogue with each other and the audience.

Robert Kibler, Division of Humanities co-chair and professor of English, helped organize the event.

“We chose this topic because the issue of statues, racism, and traditions have all surfaced through instances of systematic racism in America; a racism linked to deaths, to attitudes, presumptions of all kinds,” Kibler said. “And bound up with Black Lives Matter protests are statues, that it is argued the statues are implicitly celebrating racist individuals of the past, the dead white men, so to speak. It seems very topical.”

This is not the first time an event like this has been available for both the university and the community. Previous dialogues have consisted of topics ranging from education’s purpose, religion in the 21st century, and the legalization of marijuana.

“We have had more than 2,000 people join us on the livestream, and now that we are completely online, we are making it easier for those online to offer opinions and ask questions of panelists and of others,” Kibler mentioned. “We hope for more student participation because students are an important voice. When students have participated, they have made big splashes with their questions, comments, and perspectives.”

Conversations such as this play an important role in the community, as they open essential discussions between multiple sides for a more informed public. In uneasy times, speaking and listening to one another can make a world of difference.

“These dialogues are extremely important. We live in a deeply polarized time, and it’s tearing our society apart,” said Port. “The only antidote, as unappealing as it may be for some, is to talk to each other and, just as importantly, listen.”

One of the goals of this panel is to inspire the next generation. Through discussions like these, the hope is to meet issues in the future with more of a response than in the current state.

“If the partisan chasm within our society is going to change, it will probably need to begin with a younger generation,” said Andreasen. “I’m hoping that the positive example of dialogues such as this will set a good example for them.”

The discussion will begin on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. and can be streamed from the MSU website askmsu.com/dialogues, along with being broadcast on Facebook Live. Questions can be asked via Facebook or on the live stream and will be read by moderators. For previous dialogues, go to askmsu.com/dialogues, where all conversations have been archived.

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