By Jose Bautista
It’s safe to assume that certain topics are taboo or controversial here at Palm Beach Atlantic University: marijuana, gay marriage, war, the economy.
There is a new club hoping to put an end to that state of mind at our school.
The Agora Club, formerly known as St. Aquinas Club, is led by students who want to raise awareness of certain topics, whether the consensus is negative or positive. The club focuses on controversial topics to promote a thought process reflective of paradoxical situations.
According to Dr. Roger Chapman, assistant professor in the School of Arts and Sciences and faculty sponsor for the club, it was better to come up with a different name for the club in order to eliminate confusion since the name St. Aquinas is already being used on campus.
Led by Junior Ricardo Aguilar, an international business major, the club aims to spark interest in students and allow them to form their own opinions, and possibly change them after all is said and done.
Along with Aguilar, other members include Secretary Ashley Albert, Treasurer John Warner, Chaplain Kaci Costello and Marketer Jasmin Tucker.
“I came up with the idea after attending one of Professor Ladd’s Global Events Forum Discussions on the economic crisis,” Aguilar said of the club’s founding. “Needless to say, the discussion that night turned into a heated one and the light bulb went off about controversial topics and its affect on students involved.”
Aguilar feels there are so many things going on with the world right now, it isn’t fair to ignore them for being controversial.
“Our aim isn’t to create debate, so to speak. It’s more of an awareness club, because there’s a lot going on, and many students at school are almost in a bubble,” Aguilar said. “They have an opinion usually based on what pop culture tells us or what we grew up being told. The club is going to give those very same students a chance to change what they believe for the better because they’ll be informed.”
The club feels that handling controversial topics and not running from them will have a positive impact on the mind-set of students.
Chapman agrees saying “It is always a pleasure to hear people discuss current events and issues. Anything that dispels apathy is a good thing. This kind of thing is living out the First Amendment (free speech, right to assembly, etc.), which is really a lot of what America is all about.”
“Our intention behind the Agora club is to instigate discussion,” Costello said. “Oftentimes we go about our daily activities without considering the various issues which affect not only our small city but nations around the world.”
According to Costello, one of the main goals in hosting these discussions is so that students leave with an awareness, if not a better understanding, of multiple view points. The club is expecting a healthy amount of backlash and lack of support from some.
“I anticipate healthy criticism from faculty and administrators,” Aguilar said. “I would like to go ahead and invite not only faculty members, but also those who may feel a little uncomfortable with our topics.”
The Agora club does not promote one side or the other; they just want to raise awareness about important topics that they feel should be brought up.
“Ideally, the Agora should be a part of the PBA experience,” Chapman said.