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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA symposium to discuss meaning of being human, issues in Arizona

Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson / Arizona Daily Wildcat Protesters gathered in front of the Tucson State building, 400 W. Congress St., to protest Arizona’s SB 1070. Arguements against the bill are currently being heard in the United States Supreme Court. Photos were taken on Wednesday, April, 25, 2012.

On Tuesday, the UA will be hosting the first Tlakatl: What it Means to be Human Symposium.

The day-long symposium aims to discuss the question, “What does it mean to be human?” and seeks student and community insight in light of recent human rights issues specific to Arizona, such as Arizona Senate bill 1070 and House bill 2281.

“Arizona is very unique in the country. There are lots of human rights issues that exist in general throughout the country, but they seem to be most pronounced in Arizona,” said Roberto Rodriguez, an assistant professor in the Department of Mexican American Studies and the event coordinator. “The basic idea is for students and the community to define what it is to be human.”

The Department of Mexican American Studies, the American Indian Studies Program, Native American Student Affairs, Chicano Hispano Student Affairs and many other organizations on campus have come together to sponsor the event.

To kick off the symposium, the community is invited to participate in a run from 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue to the Kiva Room in the Student Union Memorial Center. The run serves as a type of community spiritual cleansing dating back to 1992, Rodriguez said.

Gabriel Matthew Schivone, a tutor for the Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center, said he’s attending the event to learn about how the community is addressing human rights issues.

“I’m attending the symposium to learn about what work fellow students and community members are doing to change the miserable and inhumane conditions many people face in Tucson, this minute,” Schivone said, “which often go unnoticed by the academic community and our university leaders.”

Various high school and college students will be presenting throughout the day starting at 9 a.m. in the Kiva Room. The event will end at 6 p.m.

Approximately 36 undergraduate students will be presenting to faculty responders, who will evaluate the students based on their presentation and research. The presentations, will serve as training for the students’ future professional presentations, Rodriguez said.

Students from about five local elementary schools and two high schools will be participating as well, expressing themselves through art, photography, poetry and music.

Jake Niznik, a political science junior, said he’s excited to learn what the symposium has to offer.

“It doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard of before,” Niznik said.

Rodriguez said the symposium will be an open forum where people are asked to share their thoughts on what it means to be human.

“There is no right or wrong answer,” Rodriguez said. “The fact that we have this environment may be shaping how people think, but the point is they are free to expound on what it means to be human.”

Tlakatl: What it Means to be Human Symposium

Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Student Union Memorial Center, Kiva Room

– Follow Micah Montiel @MicahMontiel

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