Human Rights Festival raises awareness for global equality

By Kalyn Dunkins

Arts & Life Editor

The sociology-anthropology department is taking part in sponsoring Denison’s tenth annual Human Rights Film Festival, which will be a presentation of a total of five documentary films spread out through the semester.

The festival is being presented as a way to raise awareness to faculty and students in a range of topics, including the unfair treatmen- and discriminatory acts towards the LGBTQ community that not only people here in the United States face, but for people all around the globe also.

“As a sociology-anthropology professor, we were asked to be a part of the program because of some of the issues that were studied and relevant in our department,” said Dr. Fareeda Griffith of the sociology-anthropology department.

Professors within the sociology-anthropology department believe that the Human Rights Festival challenges students to think critically about things that they normally would not consider.

Griffith said,  “I think this is a way to expand [students’] knowledge-base in terms of, ‘What does it mean to be human?’ and ‘What does it mean when some of these rights are not a given for particular individuals?’ And based on their social status within the community, ‘What does that mean for some of the options and resources that are available to them?’

She is optimistic that this will positively affect the student body in understanding the similarities and differences between people.

She said, “My hope as a scholar of sociology is that students are aware of the differences as well as the similarities that affect individuals locally as well as globally.”

Rusty Shekha, another professor in the sociology-anthropology department, agreed, saying, “We are all one family, one human race. Although we often look different from one another… it is our essential humanity that unites us.”

“We are all one family, one human race. Although we often look different from one another…it is our essential humanity that unites us,” said Dr. Rusty Shekha of the Sociology-Anthropology department.

Dr. Shekha is also the faculty advisor of Denison’s Student Farkworker Alliance.

“Awareness is so important to me because it is the first of a series of steps to realizing the basic and universal human rights of all peoples regardless of any status or attribute,” he continued.  “My sincerest hope is that each student discovers or deepens passion for human rights, whatever the issue.

“The festival is one of the many opportunities on campus to find the human rights issue that moves you most and to embrace it, raise your own awareness, and work to make a positive difference in the lives of the people around you. Starting with your own!”

Photo Courtesy of Katherine Rouse