Campus talks race: Towson brings “Black Lives Matter” discussion to campus

By: Sydney Engelhardt, Staff Writer

Students and faculty gathered on Tuesday, Oct. 13 to discuss possible policy changes that could affect the lives of black Americans across the nation.

The initial idea for a panel discussion at Towson about Black Lives Matter came from economics professor Howard Baetjer, director of Towson’s Economy Project club.

“As an economist, I am really interested in public policies and I think that we have a lot of public policies that are really awful, and that while they are well intended they hurt people,” Baetjer said. 

Baetjer and the Economy Project club partnered with the Honors College to invite three Towson professors to voice their opinions about possible policy changes.

The panelists included Melissa Groves, an economics professor, Jack Cole, from the department of education and Donn Worgs, a professor in the department of political science.

Each professor pitched their top two policy changes, mainly focusing on education, police accountability and economics. Baetjer wanted a group of professors who would challenge each other and were passionate about the subject.

“I’m hoping that there will be some controversy among the panelists, that they will challenge things because it’s by the contest of ideas that we learn in a university,” Baetjer said.

Worgs gave some background on Black Lives Matter before pitching his policy ideas for more rigorous accountability requirements for police and more jobs for those willing to work.

“Ultimately it’s about whether or not people value one another,” Worgs said. “There is an ease in which we undervalue the pain of others, and that is the root of a lot of the challenges.”

Groves spoke on the importance of valuing career education and making the curriculum for K-12 more challenging, while Cole stressed the importance of figuring out where we are in order to understand where we should go. His two policy proposals focused on education and economics.

The collaborative panel created a forum for students to learn outside the classroom.

Bethany Pace, director of the Honors College, said that the college provides opportunities to present different ideas and make students think more.

The students that attended the event were able to see different perspectives from professors in different departments.

“I was interested in the topic, and hearing about what experts would say about Black Lives Matter,” sophomore Marain Geiger said. “I think that it is important for professors to have open discussion with students.”

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