The Webster University Philosophy Coalition was revamped by President Jaymie Davis, Vice President Elizabeth Stanza and a crowd of new students. Last semester philosophy students took the initiative to hold a seminar, in which they discussed reviving the coalition since its disappearance in 2013.
“We’ve had meetings and assigned roles,” Stanza said. “We’ve been trying hard to make this work and not let it fall as it usually has in the past.”
The coalition meets every other Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Pearson House and encourages students of all majors to attend the meetings to open their minds beyond the classroom, meet new people, and explore a wide range of topics.
“We discuss subjects like existentialism, identity, and euthanasia,” said Stanza. “Last semester we asked just to see what people wanted to talk about. This semester Jaymie pulled topics out of a hat to make it more simple.”
Philosophy majors were not the only students pleased with the reform of the coalition. Art major Sophia Coon expressed her appreciation for the group.
“I think one of the goals of the philosophy coalition is to create a space for philosophical conversations without the pressure of the classroom,” Coon said. “As an art major, I don’t get many opportunities to take philosophy classes. The philosophy coalition is a way for me to stay connected to my interest in philosophy, so I feel very fortunate that the club is up and running again.”
The coalition is not only responsible for the efforts of their group, but will also be a significant role in the upcoming 13th Annual Philosophy Conference.
The conference will be held on March 30 in Sunnen Lounge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature Keynote Speaker Dr. Alison Reiheld, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, along with the presentation of student papers, followed by a Question and Answer session.
Reiheld will be presenting her paper, “I Can’t Hear You When You’re Angry,” which discusses police brutality, protesting, and the oppressed.
“I’m very excited to hear her and for everyone at Webster to have the chance to discuss these ideas,” philosophy professor Bruce Umbaugh said. “It’s about things like the protests after the killings of Mike Brown and Anthony Lamar Smith, and it’s about the idea of being civil to one another.”
Stanza was equally looking forward to the conference.
“I feel like that’s a really good keynote because of the issues going on today,” Stanza said. “It doesn’t really seem like a Friday night thing to go to and listen to papers, but it’s really cool because people worked really hard and these papers are like their babies.”
Stanza is among the students from the Coalition who will be presenting a 7-10 page paper. Her paper will focus on transracial adoption and the idea that people should not adopt a child of a different race as their own.
“I’m specifically looking at the adoption of African-American children into white homes, and I’m trying do that as delicately as possible,” Stanza said. “I understand that I’m a white woman speaking for a multitude of perceptions.”
Stanza’s main goals are to encourage people in the coalition to support the students that are presenting their papers and to get more students to attend meetings.
“It’s a good chance for people to be around people they think alike, so I’m trying to dispel the concept of philosophy being scary.” said Stanza. “Philosophy is barely any minorities or women, so I also want to make it more accessible for everyone.”