Looking back at this year’s Justice Summit: Town Hall on Gender

By Dominic George ‘19

On Monday, February 11th, 2019, a Justice Summit town hall was held during lunchtime at Andrade Theatre. Students gathered together to reflect on what they heard from various summit speakers, and the ways in which Bellarmine’s Justice Summit can improve moving forward.

Matthew Swain ’19 facilitated the student-led discussion. In general, students agreed that the talks throughout the week were informative and allowed them to question the ways in which they understand gender. The only downside to these sessions, however, was the lack of open discussion. Students feel that certain issues and topics need to be debated on, which in turn provides a healthier discussion on more sensitive topics.

Because this year’s Justice Summit on Gender covered such a wide range of topics, Kevin Gottlieb ’19 believes that certain sessions should be presented separately to lower classmen and upperclassmen due to the level of maturity. He argued that students are at various levels of emotional maturity, and upperclassmen would be more readily equipped with heavier topics on gender.

The problem with this is that there are freshmen and sophomores who are ready to listen to these topics, and there are still some juniors and seniors who are not ready to hear about these issues. This was the point that Anthony Scurto ‘20 brought up in response to Kevin Gottlieb’s proposal.

Another suggestion that was brought up in the town hall was having smaller justice summit sessions. Students felt that in the talks with larger audiences, there seemed to be a lack of focus and disregard for what the speaker was trying to convey. Gabriel Young ‘19 brought up how the clapping during Brandi Chastain’s talk at the opening of the Justice Summit week was excessive.

As a solution, many were in agreeance that breakout sessions should be kept to the size of a classroom. Each summit talk is around 45-50 minutes, and students felt that there should be 10-15 minutes where students are broken up into groups and are allowed to voice their opinions on the topic.

Overall, the general consensus was that students were able to gain a new perspective from listening to the talks of the summit speakers. The next step that students look forward to is continuing these conversations beyond what the Justice Summit week has to offer.