Inequality Is The Focus Of Several Upcoming Events At Dalton State

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Inequality - in any form, against any person - is a threat to justice, says Matt Hipps.

Mr. Hipps, an assistant professor of political science and director of First-Year Experience at Dalton State, hopes within the next year people begin to see that as the College presents several public programs geared toward getting people to discuss inequality in multiple forms.

“I want to make people realize that just because inequality is happening over there and has a different face doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you,” Mr. Hipps said. “Even if we can’t fix the world, maybe we can get people to talk about how. Maybe it leaves people a little less judgy. Maybe it makes someone more willing to help a neighbor. Having more perspective is good.”

Inequality is no longer only a discussion about race and/or gender. Now it includes other areas, such as economic and educational, which will be the focus of inequality discussions fall semester.

“We, as an education institution, can have conversations about inequality you can’t have in other places, such as in government,” Mr. Hipps said. “In an educational environment, it won’t come off as loaded questions. There is not a political connection here.”

The focus on these types of inequality mirrors a national trend.

“There is a growing concern nationally about increasing income inequality and the ripple effect that has across our society,” said Dr. Sandra Stone, vice president of academic affairs at the College. “According to the democratic principles upon which our country was founded, we are supposed to be the land of equal opportunity, and while there have always been more opportunities for those with greater incomes, education was supposed to offer a way to help level the playing field and sustain a viable middle class. However, over the past several years the economic changes have pushed more families down on the economic ladder.”

Data from the Wall Street Journal from 2002 to 2012 shows the average family income decreased 10.7 percent for the bottom 90 percent of families in the country, Stone said. Changes in the availability of financial aid and increasing education costs are making it more difficult for students to receive higher education, she said.

Students who go to college often graduate with a large student loan debt and are unable to earn a salary to support themselves and repay the loans, Dr. Stone said.

“Individuals and families who are unable to be financially self-sufficient frequently find themselves in lower quality housing, eating lower quality food, having access to lower quality education for themselves and/or their children, getting lower quality health care, and having little, if any, discretionary money for recreation and other activities that reduce stress and bring more pleasure to life,” she said. “Many of these individuals and families ultimately end up receiving publicly funded subsidized housing, publicly funded food assistance, publicly funded health care, and other tax-supported services. Thus, increasing income inequality is not only a quality of life issue but a social and economic concern for all of us.”

Programs are being planned by the College’s Diversity Committee and are a joint effort between academic affairs and student affairs.

Programs on economic inequality include the screening of the movie “Elysium,” which is a dystopian science fiction movie. The free public showing will be Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. in the Goodroe Auditorium in Memorial Hall. There will also be screenings on campus for students.

“We’re taking something people know and we’ll look at the underlying tenets,” Mr. Hipps said. “Students are so intimidated by politics. I hope by pairing it with something they’re comfortable with will help them with the discussion. We need to know what inequality looks like in our backyard. I want to get people talking about it so they recognize it.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 16, a public program geared toward Constitution Day will focus on the idea from the Declaration of Independence that “All men are created equal.”

“But they’re not,” Mr. Hipps said. “We’re going to look at the broad issues. We’ll move from the micro to the macro. We’ll have a broader conversation. I want it to be an eye-opening thing.”

The time and place for the Constitution Day program has not yet been set.

The economic inequality discussions will end with a panel discussion on a local level by members of the community and educators. The day has not been finalized.

Later this fall will be events geared toward educational inequality, including the showing of the documentary “Waiting for Superman” on Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in Goodroe Auditorium and a discussion on Common Core on Oct. 21, also at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium.

The fall discussions will end on Nov. 13 with a program where New York Times columnist Charles Blow will speak on his new book “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” about growing up as a black man in Louisiana.

Other events will be planned for the spring semester, which will focus on other areas of inequality.

“We have an obligation to raise awareness of issues such as income inequality with our students,” Dr. Stone said. “To prepare them to become responsible, contributing citizens in their communities, it is important that they understand the social, economic and political realities of their world as well as how they might contribute to finding ways to address them. The issue of income inequality is particularly relevant to the Dalton area, as has been pointed out in the recent study sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and in recent articles in the local newspapers.”

“It is our goal to raise awareness and educate students and the public about the complexity of the issues involved, engage those in attendance in meaningful dialogue and learn from each other’s perspectives, and discuss possible things that each of us can do to improve the situation in our community,” she said. “We invite the larger community to join with our campus and explore what we might do together.”




MatCounts Cancelled This Week

The e-week MathCounts event scheduled for  this Saturday  has been cancelled due to unforeseen schedule conflicts among the competing teams. Jeff Parris, organizer for this event, regrets any inconvenience this may cause those who had planned to help with the event. Jeff can be reached at  423-503-8766 . (click for more)

Lee University YAPD Grant Recipients Announced

The Office of Alumni Relations at Lee University has announced the winners of the second annual Young Alumni Professional Development Grant.  The YAPD Grant program supports alumni participating in initiatives, events, trainings and projects related to professional development. The grant is open to all Lee University alumni, regardless of academic major or professional experience, ... (click for more)

Arrests Made In Connection With Fire At Brainerd Trophy Shop

Fire investigators Captain Moore and Captain McElvain made two arrests Friday night in connection with the fire at the Brainerd Trophy Shop that occurred  on Friday  morning. Gene Wegg and Pamela McNabb, have been arrested and charged with arson by the Chattanooga Fire Department. The two allegedly broke into the Brainerd Trophy Shop and set fire to the building, ... (click for more)

TBI Case Leads To Charges For Woman In Death Of Whitwell Boy

A joint investigation by special agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Whitwell Police Department has resulted in charges for a Whitwell woman in connection to the death of her boyfriend’s son. At the request of 12 th  District Attorney J. Michael Taylor, TBI apecial agents began investigating the death of six-year-old Lucas Michael Dillon on March 29, ... (click for more)

The City I Used To Know

“They Dead”, the innocent young voice said as tears began streaming from my eyes.  Foolishness that didn’t involve him snatched away his childhood in the blink of an eye.  Why?  Why has my city become known more for gangs and violence than the River Front, Lookout Mountain, and a fun little theme park?  What happened to hot summers at Lake Winnie, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Stick Of Dynamite

You may have seen the Tennessee Legislature jumped on the bandwagon to send “an atomic bomb” to Washington this week. The “bomb” makes Tennessee the fifth state to adopt a Convention of the States Project that will hopefully limit the power and the jurisdiction of federal government. The official wording is “to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power ... (click for more)