Discussion in Great Hall turns into informal debate between professors

An informational discussion that transpired Monday regarding effecting change in the community turned into a clash of political beliefs as two professors exchanged comments during the question-and-answer portion of the lecture.

Assistant Professor of Sociology James McKeever, who led the discussion, and Instructor of Political Science Pamela Brown took turns arguing about capitalism and its effects on the nation’s economy at the ‘We are the 99%: Protest, Change, and the Future of Education’ event that took place in the Great Hall.

Brown blew a whistle in the middle of McKeever’s discussion, interrupting him as he was expressing his belief in President Barack Obama being a “stone cold capitalist.”

Brown called for the attention because she felt as though McKeever “misrepresented capitalism at least three times” during the course of his discussion, she said.

She publicly apologized for the interruption at the end of the lecture.

“I was trying to be the econ referee,” she said. “I apologize for it; it was juvenile.”

Though a number of students expressed their disapproval of the action, McKeever wasn’t bothered by it.

“I have nothing against her,” he said. “[The Great Hall] is free academic space, and I support the idea of academic freedom.”

McKeever expected the impromptu debate that ensued following his lecture, as Brown had apparently e-mailed him to inform him that she would be challenging some of his arguments, he said.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from Pam,” he said.

Brown said that she was compelled to attend the discussion after seeing the flyer promoting the event. The flyer essentially blamed the rich “minority” for the economic problems the nation is facing today.

“When I saw the e-mail his department sent about the lecture, I thought, ‘these are just fighting words,’” she said.

The discussion was co-sponsored by the Sociology Club, Students Organizing for Success, and the Black Student Union – all of which are advised by McKeever.

The discussion was organized in conjunction with the upcoming Oct. 26 “Where’s the Funding?” (WTF?) rally, a collective effort by the nine campuses under the Los Angeles Community College District to protest further cuts to education.

The event was also hosted in order to promote awareness of participatory democracy, as well as to inform students that issues currently faced by the nation do not revolve solely on education.

Participatory democracy requires participants actively getting involved with politics, according to McKeever.

“It means you participate all the way through and hold [our leaders] accountable,” he said.

McKeever suggested that students participate in the WTF? rally.

“The time has come for us to stop asking people what they’re gonna do,” he told the audience. “This is our fight. This is our future we’re fighting for.”

In relation to participating in the rally, he also stressed, in the lecture, the importance of exercising the right to vote.

“[Politicians] need to hear your voice,” he said. “You need to make it political suicide for them to cut education.”

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