If indeed, to paraphrase a famous thought, “it takes a village to educate a child,” then the “village” was present at Clayton State University today at the Fourth Annual Constitution Week Debate.
Moderated by Clayton State Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Joseph Corrado, “Constitutional Debate on Guns on College Campuses: Defensive or Offensive?” presented educational opportunities outside of the classroom for a diverse group of Clayton State students, and an audience that included 120 students from Rex Mill Middle School. Also making up the “village,” in addition to moderator Corrado, were Clayton State Professor of Education Dr. Mary Hollowell, several of her undergraduate education majors, and Clayton State Teacher Education graduate Cindi LeMon, who also happens to be a seventh grade social studies teacher at Rex Mill Middle, and who arranged, along with Hollowell, to have her students not only listen to, but take part in the debate.
"Debating an issue that relates to the Constitution that clearly affects college students is a great way to enable students to see the clear relevance of the U.S. Constitution in their lives,” notes Corrado, a nationally-recognized expert on gun control issues. “The Rex Mill Middle School students were able to witness a dynamic debate and ask relevant questions. Hopefully this will inspire them to follow political issues in the future.”
Although gun control is both a subject of much debate nationally, and, following the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, a very current topic as well, Corrado’s point that the debate had a broader educational significance than the specific topic is well-taken.
“This is a good example for our students,” explains LeMon. “There were some good points made in the debate, but it’s also important that nobody called anybody ‘stupid’ and we also didn’t hear anyone say, ‘in my opinion.’ Referencing a higher authority gives more weight to your argument. This is a good debate model for our students. This is invaluable.
“We take our mission of getting our students college- and career-ready very seriously. This gives them an eye for the prize.”
The Clayton State students providing that good model for the Rex Mill students were a diverse group of three political science majors, a sociology major, an economic major and even a computer networking major, Ashley Catron. A non-traditional student from McDonough, Catron is both an IT person and an honored author whose November 2012 essay for English 1102, “The Fallacy of Gun Control in America,” won the College of Arts and Sciences’ Sharon Sellers prize last year, and argues that, “Personal firearms are the most affordable and effective means for the common citizen to resist tyranny in whatever form it may present itself.”
Another non-traditional student taking part on the “pro-gun” side of the debate was Damian Loback, a junior political science major from Newnan who served 10 years in the U.S. Army, including two tours of duty in Iraq. Loback took part in the debate because, “it’s important to put out correct information. Both sides skew the information.”
Although another political science major, Riverdale High School graduate Krysten Long, took the opposite side of the debate from Loback, her concerns were similar.
“I am partaking in this event because, in light of the recent talks over guns and guns violence, there has been more ambiguous information presented rather than clear facts,” she says. It is important that a dialogue is opened that sheds light and facts about guns and gun violence that will not be overshadowed by fear.”
Long also recognizes the value that events such as this bring to a Clayton State education, in terms similar to those used by LeMon is expressing the value to her middle school students.
“These sorts of events bring value to a Clayton State education by causing its students to open their minds, think outside of the box, and learn from and not merely tolerate differing opinions,” she points out. “This event’s educational value lies in open debate. It is from debate that our perspectives can be broadened and perhaps, our opinions changed. By hearing another’s stance we are better prepared for a world laden with disagreement and are taught to dissect and evaluate the significance of opposing arguments.”
Joining Long on the “anti-gun” side of the debate were junior sociology major Ivan Dowdell, (Riverdale) and Kendra Wilson, a political science major from Olympia, Wash., who says that she took part to, “get a better perspective of the roles of guns on campus.”
Adding more diversity to the student debaters was junior economics major Zakery Daniel, a native of Hampton who is also running for a spot on the Hampton City Council in the forthcoming November election. It should thus come as no surprise that Daniel is interested in public policy and constitutional rights, including interpretations of the Second Amendment, which, he points out, had its genesis in English law as far back as the 12th
Following the debate, the Rex Mill students proved they not only had been prepped by LeMon, a 2007 Clayton State graduate in her sixth year teaching social studies at Rex Mil Middle, but that they had prepared some good questions on their own for the debaters, including inquiries about the uses of guns and how each side of the debate might handle hypothetical active shooter situations on campus.