Dialogue participants discuss what freedom means to them

By Erin MacKay

Participants gathering in the Kane Forum for the political dialogue event on March 22, 2022.

SCRANTON- City Public Health Coordinator, Rachna Saxena, said she wants to find out more about what is going on in the world.

“I am here to learn and find out what is going on, to hear the views of other people and to learn about both sides of these issues,” Saxena said.

The University of Scranton hosted a political dialogue for both students and the community Tuesday night in Leahy Hall to discuss what freedom means to them. The purpose of the event was to explore the founding of the U.S. in the context of the city of Scranton.

Event coordinator and Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement and Government Affairs, Julie Schumacher Cohen, discussed with participants what the event is about and what they should get out of it.

“Tonight is about who we are as Scrantonians and what we think about these big founding questions,” Cohen said.

Participants gathered in the Kane Forum in Leahy Hall to discuss their ideas. Associate Professor in the Department of English and Theater, Theresa Grettano, Ph. D., asked the participants what ideas come to mind when they think about democracy. Many shared the common responses of self-governance, autonomy and respect for the common good.

The event coordinators then split the participants into smaller groups to discuss their personal experiences and ideas of freedom. Before beginning the dialogue, participants agreed to respect and listen to each other as they discussed these topics. When asked to discuss freedom in regard to equality and democracy, many participants talked about the current political environment and how it can be hard to freely express opinions.

The groups also talked about their ideas about the connection between freedom and the common good. Many participants discussed how sometimes freedom has to be taken away to help the common good.

At the conclusion of the group discussions, participants discussed how they enjoyed hearing different perspectives on these ideas and emphasized the importance of listening to each other. The event ended with a reflection on the discussions and some major takeaways.

Saxena said that she wanted to learn about other people’s views in relation to hers.

“It is important to learn about both sides of these major issues,” Saxena said.