You’re invited to an open discussion on race and the criminal justice system

Have you been wondering about the riots in Ferguson surrounding racism and the criminal justice system? Get all your questions answered and learn more at The Elephant in the Room:  An Open Discussion on Criminal Justice and Race.


Before winter break the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) adviser gathered professors and students for a teach-in. NKU students and professors discussed different topics such as the Mike Brown and Eric Gardner and the issues that were happening in Ferguson. Everyone at the teach-in came to the conclusion that there needed to be more discussions about the topics on campus and created The Elephant in the Room event, to be held Thursday from 6-8 p.m. in Lucas Administrative Center 503.

Associate professor of criminal justice Danielle McDonald went to the teach-in and noticed students were curious about these topics.

“I noticed that many students had a lot of questions such as ‘Why is this happening? How is this happening? And what can we do to stop this from happening,'” McDonald said.

Soon McDonald, with the help of Lowe, NAACP Events Coordinator Matthew White and SPJ President Kevin Schultz, came up with the idea to put together a panel and have students tweet their questions and then they could come to the open discussion and have those questions answered.

The panelists include Cherie Dawson-Edwards, Criminal Justice Professor from University of Louisville; David Singleton, executive director of the Ohio Justice Policy Center and NKU Law professor; Bruce McClure, NKU Political Science Professor and attorney; Eric Jackson, NKU History Professor and Chief Jason Willis of NKU police.

“We put together a top ten list of questions asked and we are going to have the panelists answer those questions on Thursday and if there is time open it up for the audience to ask questions as well.” McDonald said.

McDonald noticed some themes when looking through the various questions being tweeted in regards to the media, things like ‘What is the media’s role?’ ‘Did they make the situations worse?’ and ‘Would they have covered it differently if the person was a different race?’

“At this open discussion students will get honesty, an outside point of view on different things, and will learn more about other people as well as themselves,” said Kayla Lowe, senior psychology major and President of NKU’s chapter of NAACP. “They will be educated on issues that may not affect them personally, but are affecting people that are around them.”

Lowe feels like to some race doesn’t matter, until something big happens in the media like the Mike Brown situation.

“We should be talking about these things more often than people think we need to. Some people get really uncomfortable about race and the more we talk about it the less people will feel uncomfortable about it.” Lowe said. “I would like people to come with an opened mind, opened heart, and respect.”

McDonald is thankful for all the professors and students for being incredibly supportive with putting together this open discussion event and is looking forward to seeing a lot of students come out to listen and discuss.

“My hope is that people will hear a little bit more about the history of what has lead up to this and also have their questions answered as well as think about some ways they could get involved in their own community.” McDonald said.

If you have a question for the panel tweet using the hashtag #elephantNKU.