Student-initiated theme year to include monthly forums, interactive web site, film series, service opportunities

A group of Wake Forest University students is planning several events to recognize a new theme year – the Year of Unity and Hope: Pro Humanitate at Work. All of the events are free and are open to the public.

Wake Forest has celebrated several theme years in the past, but no single theme was chosen for the 2001-2002 academic year. Moved by the events of Sept. 11, a group of student leaders successfully proposed the new theme to the university administration and quickly formed a committee to oversee events.

“The purpose of the theme year is to provide a forum for discussion and education in light of really horrible events,” said Jonathan Willingham, a junior from Summerville, S.C., and the co-chair of the theme year committee. “My generation has always been accused of being apathetic, and the truth is that we have never been challenged like this. This is really our first opportunity to grow as adults as we try to build a framework for understanding how our lives fit into the global community.”

The theme year opened Sept. 27 with a public forum called, “Understanding Sept. 11.” A panel of faculty experts on the Middle East explained the history of American relations with countries in that region for an audience of more than 400 people.>

“Our main goal is to ensure that we come out of this as better people, not as jaded, bitter people, so every event we have will have an educational focus,” Willingham said.

Forums will be held each month featuring panels of faculty experts. The next one, to be held in October, will focus on the diplomatic and military responses to the attack. More information about that event will be announced soon. Future forums will address the economic impact of the attack, evaluations of the media’s coverage of the situation and other related topics.

A film series will also be offered. That schedule will be announced soon.

The next scheduled event tied to the theme year will bring Danny Coulson, founder and former director of the FBI’s Anti-Terrorist Task Force, to Wake Forest on Oct. 8. He will speak at 8 p.m. in Wait Chapel.

Through his first-person accounts of such high-profile investigations as the Oklahoma City bombing, Atlanta prison riots and tense showdowns at Ruby Ridge and Waco, Coulson will reveal how lessons learned then apply to the challenges ahead. His talk is sponsored by the Wake Forest Student Union.

To give people an opportunity to discuss their feelings about the terrorist attack, the Women’s Initative for Support and Empowerment (WISE) will sponsor, “Speak Out Now: A Forum for Discussion and Information Exchange,” on Oct. 4 from 7-9 p.m. The event will take place in Tribble Hall, Room A108. Co-sponsors include the Gay-Straight Student Alliance (GSSA) and the Pre-Law Society.

On Oct. 15, the Volunteer Service Corps will sponsor a blood drive through the American Red Cross. It will take place Oct. 15 from 2-6:30 p.m. in Benson Center, Room 401. Participants should pre-register for a donation appointment by calling 336-758-5290.

The Year of Unity and Hope committee will unveil a new Web site soon that was designed by Brian Bell, a senior from Jackson Springs. The site will feature a logo designed by senior Melissa McGhie of Miami, Fla. An interactive “Book of Days” feature will allow visitors to record their opinions and feelings on the site.

One project tied to the theme year has concluded. The Volunteer Service Corps collected money for the September 11th Fund, a United Way project that will distribute money to victims in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. The fund-raising total will be available next week.

Categories: Community, Events, Pro Humanitate