At Indiana University Northwest, discussions about democracy aren’t restricted to the classroom. This week, as students, faculty and staff members resume their normal schedules following this month’s flood, they also have the opportunity to add their voices to the nation’s vital civic discussion about democracy and the future of the United States.
On Thursday, Oct. 2, beginning at 7:30 p.m., students, faculty, staff, and members of the Northwest Indiana community are invited gather in the Moraine Student Center to watch the lone vice presidential debate between Republican VP nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Democratic VP nominee Sen. Joseph Biden. The debate broadcast will be shown on large-screen monitors in the student center, with open discussions taking place before and after the 90-minute debate. The debate itself begins at 8 p.m. CDT. Light refreshments will be served.
This VP debate “watch party” is the first of several planned for the IU Northwest campus in advance of the Nov. 4 presidential election. Similar events are planned for the two remaining presidential debates between Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama and GOP hopeful Sen. John McCain. Those debates are scheduled for Oct. 7 and Oct. 15. Associate Professor of Sociology Jack Bloom, Ph.D., one of the organizers, said the watch parties are intended to stir engagement and debate and to promote greater involvement in public affairs.
IU Northwest welcomes students, staff, faculty and their classes, and all interested citizens to join Thursday’s debate party and take an active role in this year’s lively political discussion. The Moraine Student Center is located on the north side of campus at 3400 Broadway in Gary, Ind., next to the Savannah Center. This event is sponsored by the Office of Student Life, the Office of Academic Affairs, and the Department of Sociology.
Also at IU Northwest this week, located inside the Savannah Center, is the provocative, interactive exhibit “Democracy: The Writing on the Wall,” which invites students and visitors to add their thoughts about democracy, graffiti-style, to large white panels as part of a public art project that started off in Bloomington earlier this year. Thousands of statements, sayings, cartoons, and drawings have already been added to other panels in this innovative civic art project. IU Northwest students and visitors from Northwest Indiana now have their opportunity to weigh in on what democracy means to them.
“Democracy: The Writing on the Wall” is a collaborative effort between Bloomington community artist Joe LaMantia, Betsy Stirratt, who is the artistic director of the IU School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Gallery in Bloomington, and Sherry Knighton-Schwandt from the IU Office of the Vice Provost for Research. It is a part of IU’s Moveable Feast of the Arts, which brings culturally significant exhibits to communities around Indiana.
One goal of “Democracy: The Writing on the Wall” is to highlight the social relevance and creative vibrancy of graffiti art. Another, of course, is to spur students to consider what democracy means to them. Faculty are invited to bring their classes to Savannah to add their thoughts to the growing chorus of Northwest Indiana voices represented in this exhibit.
For more information about “Democracy: The Writing on the Wall,” view a short documentary film about the exhibit at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpOTGfSvFJA
In this important and exciting election season, IU Northwest is proud to provide a forum where students and citizens can participate in the free exchange of ideas that is so crucial to the success of any democracy. The university encourages all of its community members, as well as citizens from across the Northwest Indiana region, to exercise their right to be a part of this civic process.