Don't Hate Debate! Teach-In Discussed Polarization

For Izzy Stewart, a junior from Elyria, Ohio, activism is second nature to her. So, when she heard about a possible Teach-In at Kent State, she jumped at the chance to share her voice.
Students and faculty joined together on Friday, Oct. 23 to discuss elections, politics, political and social polarization and civil discourse at the interactive teach-in, Don’t Hate - Debate. This event was sponsored by the College of Communication and Information (CCI), the School of Peace and Conflict Studies and the Divisions of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs.
This virtual, day-long teach-in covered a variety of topics from how to vote and freedom of expression to conspiracy theories and social media. Sessions consisted of 15-minute presentations or discussions and 15 minutes of questions and answers. Don’t Hate - Debate was moderated by School of Communication Studies professor and interim director, Paul Haridakis.
 “The teach-in was designed to provide such a forum –where people could share their expertise and perspectives on the topic of the teach-in and attendees could debate and reflect on the information provided,” Haridakis said.
These discussions allowed attendees to listen to new perspectives, ask important questions and educate themselves on current issues. Associate professor at the School of Communication Studies, Rekha Sharma, said that the event was reminiscent of teach-ins that were common on college campuses years ago.
“Students and faculty took the time to have some meaningful and spirited conversations about things that made them feel curious, angry, or inspired,” Sharma said. “Those gatherings were meant to channel that intellectual energy into purposive, productive, prosocial action.”
Izzy felt it was important to use her voice to educate others on how to create action and stand up for what they believe in. She hosted a presentation called “You’ve Tweeted Your Politics - Now What?” where she touched on what next steps of activism should look like after using a social media platform to get your voice heard.
“I talked about the importance of not participating in ‘performative activism’ and how to truly help a cause,” Stewart said. “Many people are not aware of how to approach the next steps so I provided information about voting, protesting, volunteering and other ways to get involved in a movement.”
Haridakis was pleased with the turn out of the event, having more than 300 people register. With the current state of coronavirus, it is important to offer virtual opportunities for education and discussion like Don’t Hate - Debate. Kent State continues to innovate and use technology to benefit its community during these uncertain times.


POSTED: Friday, November 6, 2020 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 - 10:10am
Marissa Hanak and Sophia Iannelli