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SCC Democracy Days
SCC Democracy Days 2021
Examining the history, health and functioning
of democracy in America and abroad since 2001
Free & Open to the Public
Attend in-person in the SSB Auditorium
or see the presentations at stchas.edu/DemocracyDays
Monday, Sept. 13
8:30 a.m. The U.S. Constitution and Major League Baseball
Batter up! As the hometown team tries to make history yet again, come and see how our country's pastime compares to one of its other most prized traditions ... the United States Constitution. Lisa Randoll (Political Science) will game out exactly how various aspects of Major League Baseball compare and connect to our country's most integral founding document.
10 a.m. The Poetry & Prose of Protest
The current political climate of the United States has created an environment that is rife for protest in its many forms: marches, picket lines, vigils, speeches. This panel examines another form of popular protest with a rich history: the written word. Following a brief history of the use of literature as protest, members of the Fall 2021 Creative Writing II class taught by Joe Baumann (SCC English) will present their protest writing and discuss their motivations and inspirations for writing, as well as what they hope the power of art and the written word can achieve in a time of turmoil and upheaval.
11:30 a.m. Signs of Life
When push comes to shove, what are we willing to live with? From the death of George Floyd to the storming of the U.S. Capitol, recent events raise the question of what we're supposed to do when we can no longer run our moral lives on autopilot. Extraordinary situations like these seem to call for acts of ethical creativity, but how can this be accomplished while maintaining our integrity? Join Charles DeBord (SCC Philosophy) for an investigation of how the philosophical foundations of ethics can ground our understanding of right and wrong within a rapidly changing social landscape.
1 p.m. Transgender Today: A Panel Discussion
Missouri leads the country in the number of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced, most of which target transgender youth. Fifteen such bills have recently made an appearance. On this panel to discuss these bills and other related issues: Rep. Barbara Phifer represents St. Louis County (District 90/Kirkwood) in the Missouri House of Representatives. She was a United Methodist pastor for 40 years and has a transgender grandchild. Rep. Doug Clemens represents St. Louis County (District 72/St. Ann) in the Missouri House of Representatives. He is the uncle of a gender non-binary individual. Danielle Meert is the parent of a transgender youth and an activist with TransParentSTL. Sara Baker is the Deputy Chief of Staff for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones. Oliver Spencer is transgender and a self-advocate who studied at SCC from 2014-2017. Moderating the panel is Tracy Bono, adjunct faculty in the SCC business department.
2:30 p.m. Afghanistan in Focus: A Panel Discussion
The 20-year, U.S.-led coalition war in Afghanistan has concluded with shocking scenes of chaos, violence and Taliban rule. What happened and where do we go from here? Our panelists bring multiple perspectives. Fahime Mohammad, who came to the United States from Afghanistan in 1991, shares a riveting personal journey with his observations of government. He co-owns and operates Sameem Afghan Restaurant in St. Louis. He will be joined by William Baca Mejia (SCC Economics) and Ryanzo Perez, a veteran of the U.S. military who served in Afghanistan.
Tuesday, Sept. 14
10 a.m. Medicaid in Missouri: A Panel Discussion
The SCC Political Science department hosts a discussion on Medicaid expansion featuring two Missouri legislators. In 2020, Missourians passed Amendment 2, which changed the Missouri Constitution and required the state government to expand Medicaid to cover Missourians earning up to 133% of the poverty level. In 2021, the Missouri legislature refused to fund that expansion, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the expansion could proceed. State Representative John Wiemann (R) and State Representative Trish Gunby (D) will discuss their perspectives on Medicaid expansion and what happens next. Gabe Harper (SCC Political Science) will moderate the discussion. [Postscript -- Unfortunately, Representative Wiemann had a last-minute conflict and was unable to appear at Democracy Days.]
11:30 a.m. Ordinary Equality: Why We Need the ERA
A 2020 poll revealed a 75% majority of Americans support an equal rights amendment. By 2020, 38 states ratified the ERA and passed the 3/4 rule to become constitutional. So why is it not law? This discussion, led by Grace Moser (SCC History), Dana Prewett (SCC Sociology) and Monica Swindle (SCC Sociology), will address the history behind the amendment and what it means for American women today. Panelists will discuss the Constitution and its amendments regarding equal rights and explore other nations’ constitutions with more specific protections already included.
1 p.m. The 2020 Election: An Analysis
Paul Roesler (SCC Political Science) examines the 2020 election, focusing on the myth of voter fraud. Roesler will explain constitutional requirements for presidential elections, the roots of the Voter Fraud Myth and how it undermines our democracy. He will discuss some of the more bizarre myths, such as those involving bamboo and the ghost of Hugo Chavez, as well as the political implications of spreading the Big Lie, including the January 6th insurrection and restrictions on voting.
Wednesday, Sept. 15
10 a.m. Student Open-Microphone Forum
Lisa Randoll (SCC Political Science) annually holds an open forum for students’ views, questions and experiences regarding current events and political issues that are impacting their lives. Come join the conversation! See how real politics can be. The dialogue is always conducted in a way that allows people to speak their minds without fear of ridicule.
11:30 a.m. Moms Demand Action
Angela Curtis, Local Group Lead for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, will discuss her group’s grassroots non-partisan movement to prevent gun violence. She will also focus on the ways Moms Demand Action volunteers get involved in the legislative process to influence the laws that impact gun safety.
1 p.m. Balancing Security and Accessibility in Elections
Kurt Bahr, Director of Elections for St. Charles County, will discuss the competing yet complementary goals of voter access and ballot security in elections. State and Federal changes to election laws have proposed changing who and how voters access ballots as well as how those ballots are secured from fraud before and after they are cast. A look at Missouri’s current laws on election verification, auditing procedures as well as the process for voter registration and list management will provide perspective on how those proposed state and national election laws will change our election system.
2:30 p.m. Critical Race Theory: A Panel Discussion
Greg Bosworth (SCC Dean of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences) leads an exploration of CRT in our political discourse and the public education system. It’s one of the hottest political flashpoints in our time. Joining the panel discussion will be Grace Moser (SCC History), Rachel McWhorter (SCC English), Anastasia Bierman (SCC English) and Martha Kampen (SCC Diversity & Compliance).
Thursday, Sept. 16
10 a.m. Separate and Unequal in Death: The Challenges of Preserving a Segregated Cemetery
Greenwood Cemetery, established in 1874, is the oldest non-sectarian cemetery for African Americans in St. Louis. Archivist and Historian Etta Daniels and Board Secretary Shelley Morris of the Greenwood Cemetery Preservation Association will discuss their research and work at the cemetery and how it continues to change and affect descendants of those buried there. Inequality continues even after death, as Greenwood highlights the continued struggle for St. Louis’ black community to preserve and honor their dead.
11:30 a.m. Covid-19: The Delta Variant
Amy Koehler, Provost of the SCC Dardenne Creek Campus (and former nursing faculty), joins Monica Hall-Woods (SCC Biology) and Nicole Pinaire (SCC Biology) to discuss medical questions surrounding vaccines and the evolution of Covid-19, including the Delta variant. Sara Evers, Assistant Director of the St Charles County Department of Public Health, will discuss government efforts to fight this pandemic in St. Charles and provide updates on the efficacy of vaccines and masks. Paul Roesler (SCC Political Science) will moderate the discussion and discuss the role of government in a democracy.
1 p.m. Creating Equitable Education in Our Communities (Monday, Sept 13, etc.)
Over 10 million children live below the poverty line in America, and only 14% of children growing up in poverty will graduate from college within eight years of graduating high school. The U.S. education system struggles to provide a functioning learning experience for children in low-income communities. Francesca Meixner, an educator for Teach for America, works in these communities to ensure that all children receive an equitable education regardless of family income. A true democracy will care about the needs of all; this means addressing the lack of equity within our local schools. Ms. Meixner will share what individuals can do to assist in creating a fair education system for all and will also guide students in seeing their ability to create lasting change in their own communities.
7 p.m. Missouri at 200 Years
It’s Missouri’s anniversary! Join Debra Crank Lewis (SCC History), Gabe Harper (SCC Political Science) and Gary McKiddy (SCC History) as they discuss 200 years of Missouri being part of the United States. They will cover topics including Missouri Compromise, the Missouri Constitution, German influences in Missouri as well as the fractious politics of Missouri today.
A Note about Methodology
Since 2001, this annual forum has featured SCC students, faculty, staff and administrators as well as invited guests discoursing on democracy. Every spring semester, an “all mail users” message goes out inviting proposals for Democracy Days that September. No one who has ever proposed a session has been turned down! The agenda you see this year, and every year, reflects the intellectual energies and commitments of the people who step forward to participate. Presenters and panelists are asked to allow for ample time in every session for Q&A, discussion, dissent, etc., as this forum seeks to be democratic in practice.
If you’d like more information about Democracy Days, or you’d like to take part in SCC Democracy Days in the future, please contact Michael Kuelker (SCC English) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SCC Democracy Days 2020
An interdisciplinary forum assessing the history, health and functioning of democracy in America and abroad
20th anniversary event!
Monday, Sept 14
10 a.m. Disability Rights, Education & Democracy
Tracy Bono and Paige George explore disability rights, education and legislation. They will bring compelling examples of the fight for disability rights including Bono's personal story regarding her son. Paige George holds a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling. She has worked at SCC for 15 years with over five years serving as the Disability Support Manager. She is a member of the Association on Higher Education and Disability. Her goal is to make SCC a welcoming place for students with disabilities and to remove barriers to students reaching their educational goals. Tracy Bono (SCC Business, SCC Reading) is a parent advocate. She is often a guest speaker at disability rights rally events throughout the state of Missouri, has worked closely with state legislators regarding bills related to disability rights and is an administrator of the International Coalition Against Restraint and Seclusion.
11:30 a.m. No Holding Back
E pluribus unum – out of many, one. But are we really? From Coronavirus to the ghosts of the Confederacy, from Black Lives Matter to the Boogaloo Boys, it appears that we are in fact more divided than united. Some have gone so far as to suggest that we shouldn’t even try for one, we should just settle for we.
This presentation explores the significance of our traditional national motto: what does it mean to be one? Is there reason to believe that true unity is possible? If so, how might it be brought about? In light of both ancient and modern philosophy, Chaz DeBord (SCC Philosophy) argues that a number of popular conceptions of the American nation are inconsistent with true unity. He then describes some conditions for the possibility of unity and points to how these conditions might offer guidance for bringing the American one out of the American many.
1 p.m. Inside Elections: The St. Charles County Director of Elections Speaks
Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of democracy. Get the inside story from St. Charles County Director of Elections Kurt Bahr. Covid-19 has affected voting practices and the law has changed to reflect this. Director Bahr will discuss safety measures at polling stations as well as absentee voting and early voting by mail, methods which are seeing significant increased usage this year.
Tuesday, Sept 15
10 a.m. The Pandemic and Mental Health
As the world is continuing to endure the pandemic, racial injustice protests, unemployment and social and economic uncertainties, it is becoming clear that democracy and its systems are either failing many Americans or is working only for the privileged few. Experts are predicting that the emerging “second curve” of the Covid-19 will be in mental health impacting families, patients, health care workers and others who face trauma while dealing with social isolation and other ordeals relating to the pandemic. Vi Rajagopalan (SCC Psychology) will examine key issues and precautionary measures that families and individuals can focus on to develop healthy coping mechanisms right now to prevent or curb further escalations in stress related responses.
11:30 a.m. It’s All Our History
An interdisciplinary panel led by SCC profs representing Psychology, Sociology, English, and Occupational Therapy examining the importance of knowing and understanding African American history. The discussion proceeds from the assumption that we cannot understand the present without knowing and acknowledging US history through the lens of African American history. This panel examines how knowing and understanding this history can affect everything in society from accessibility of jobs and homeownership, to mental health and access to adequate medical care, and this panel calls for the inclusion of African American representation in our current education system as a standard, not an elective. Panelists include Marvin Tobias (Psychology), Dana Prewitt (Sociology), Rachel McWhorter (English) and Courtney Barrett (Occupational Therapy). Moderated by Grace Moser (History).
1 p.m. ‘You Can’t and I Won’t’: The Controversy Over Social Distancing During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
Stephen Randoll (SCC History) explores the history of the 1918 pandemic in America and its bearing upon our current health crisis. The 1918 pandemic, a subject of Randoll’s graduate studies in history, claimed 675,000 lives in the US and upwards of 50 million people globally.
Wednesday, Sept 16
10 a.m. Poetry and Democracy in the American Tradition
How can poetry teach? And what does American poetry about democracy have to teach us in 2020, a year of acute challenge and change? When we study poetry and democracy, we realize that democracy is not only a system of governance; it’s a way of thinking and being, something that can inform the very acts of writing and reading themselves. Michael Kuelker (SCC English) will elaborate. Examples in this hour will spring from Walt Whitman (“I speak the password primeval, I give the sign of democracy”), the Harlem Renaissance, contemporary poetry slams, the verse of current US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo & many others who have taken part in the grand parade of American poetry.
11:30 a.m. Civic Engagement in the Wake of 2020
This panel will detail how instructors and students are pursuing activism, social justice, and service-learning projects in their remote and virtual classrooms. Bryonie Carter (SCC English) moderates.
1 p.m. Racism, Police and the Black Lives Matter Movement
A panel of SCC faculty discusses racism in the US and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Dana Prewitt (SCC Sociology) examines contemporary institutional racism from a sociological point of view, focusing on economic, educational, and health disparities. Paul Roesler (SCC Political Science) explores evidence of widespread discrimination in policing and shifting public opinion in favor of police reforms. Marvin Tobias (SCC Psychology) looks at updated research on bias and behavior and the role that racism has played in the response to the movement. Grace Moser (SCC History) speaks about the importance of understanding and including black history in our narratives so we can understand context.
Thursday, Sept 17
10 a.m. The Stock Market Indexes: Not a Macroeconomic Indicator
This presentation by William Baca-Mejia (SCC Economics) contests the mainstream view in economics that reduces democracy to a simple efficient resource allocation of the market. In news about the state of the economy, indexes of the stock market have been presented as indicators that reflect the well performance of the economy, suggesting that the higher these indexes, the higher the well-being of a nation. This is a misconception because it is the trends in consumption, business real investment, government purchases and exports (in terms of foreign consumption and investment) as well as unemployment and inflation what gives us a sense of how well the economy is doing. Along with data and theoretical principles, we will present the case of how an economy should be evaluated.
11:30 a.m. A Conversation on Police Reform with Sgt. Heather Taylor
Gabe Harper (SCC Political Science) will introduce some calls to reform the police including the push by some activists to “defund” the police. Sgt Heather Taylor will then discuss her observations on policing in America and her observations on these reform proposals. Sgt Taylor is a homicide sergeant with the Metropolitan Police Department of the City of St. Louis, and she is the President of the Ethical Society of Police (ESOP), an organization founded within the St. Louis Police Department to address race-based discrimination.
1 p.m. The Myth of Voter Fraud
A panel of faculty from SCC’s Political Science department will discuss allegations of voter fraud, including voter I.D. and concerns with absentee voting during a pandemic. The panel will discuss past allegations as well concerns about the 2020 presidential election and President Trump's suggestion to postpone the election.