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The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

G Is For Gun


At 4 p.m. Monday, Oct 16, the First-Year Read held a viewing of the thirty-minute documentary “G is for Gun” in Scanlon Banquet Hall. The event was organized by Professor Chalet Seidel of the English Department and Ron’na Lytle, Administrative Assistant of the Language & Culture Studies Department.

The First-Year Read for Fall 2018 is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me”, a book written as an epistolary to the author’s son about life as a Black man in America. Seidel said that this documentary would help students connect to a passage discussing firearms in America. The event was open to all students and faculty. Refreshments and snack foods were served.

While the projector was being attended to, Seidel asked the audience how they felt about arming students. A handful of students were in favor of arming school faculty, with roughly a dozen students against it entirely. When asked if they would ever change their minds, no students indicated they were willing.

Seidel’s response to the silence from students was, “If I felt like the lack of response implied that the answer for them all was ‘no,’ then yes, I would be very worried.” She went on to explain, “I think the situation in which I posed the question was very odd and not conducive to soul searching questions.”

Seidel discussed similar situations in class where a professor poses a big question and students don’t answer. Reasons behind this could be because students don’t understand the question, aren’t sure how they feel, or are too shy to try to articulate an answer.

“My first response [to the student’s silence] was surprise and a little disappointment, but when I reflected on it later, I think the lack of response was more situational.” Seidel added.

Kate Way, co-producer of G is for Gun also made an appearance at WSU. Way explained the filmmakers were interested in exploring the project of arming teachers. Specifically by showing audiences arming and active-shooter response training of school faculty has been ongoing for longer than many were aware.

The film explored the town of Sidney, Ohio as it implemented a program to arm school personnel in their district. It portrayed a divided group of teachers, who opted into the plan and training, while others adamantly opposed.

Even within the police force, officers cast doubt on the plan’s effectiveness. The film ended by showing the widespread nature of this idea, with at least 13 states having already implemented arming faculty to some extent.

The event was then turned over to panelists Kate Way, Captain Michael Foyle of Public Safety, and Professor Gabriel Aquino of the Sociology Department.

There are several upcoming Fall First-Year Read Events, the next being the workshop “Never Speak Alone: Inform(ed) Writing and Speaking”, held Nov. 6. Ta-Nehisi Coates will also be visiting Western Massachusetts on Nov. 8 at Massachusetts College Of Liberal Arts in North Adams.

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