Human Rights Seminar prepares for upcoming symposium


Graphic by Lea George

Human Rights Seminar plans to host their “The Death of Democracy” symposium June 7.

Nick Zirinis, News Editor: Online

Despite COVID-19 regulations restricting how many people can be inside together, the Human Rights Seminar will host an in-person symposium June 7. 

Every year, students in the Human Rights Seminar, taught by Social Studies Teachers Terry Gladis and Christopher Wolf, hold a symposium to share individual topics they have been working on for the majority of the past two semesters. 

This year’s topic, “The Death of Democracy,” was announced May 7. The announcement included a promotional video covering some of the students’ individual topics such as “Why Democracy Fails When the Press Fails” and “Sexual Harassment in a Male Democracy.”

Solenne Jackson (’21), a member of the Human Rights Seminar, whose individual project is, “The Slippery Slope of Surveillance and the Devolution of Democracy,” said the topic for this year was determined by each of the students’ earlier research projects. 

Jackson said she is excited about the topic they have chosen as she believes it does a wonderful job of connecting all they have learned. 

“It’s a really relevant topic to choose,” she said. “What’s interesting is that it intersects both like human rights fundamentally and, like Article 21 of the UDHR, to free and fair elections.”  

While the symposium is supervised by Gladis and Wolf, Gladis said it is run by students for the most part . Gladis said he is pleased with all that the students have accomplished leading up to the symposium, especially considering everything they have to organize. 

“That’s why we consider Human Rights Seminar a capstone course because [the students] are responsible for absolutely everything regarding the planning, regarding the schedule of the day, the rooms,” he said. 

I’m excited to maybe inspire more students to take the class in the future and for everyone to see our workshops.

— Andrea Stephen ('21)

Andrea Stephen (’21), another student in the course, whose topic is “One Nation Under Whose God?: The Separation of Church and State,” said planning the symposium through COVID-19 has been difficult because “it’s been really hard trying to organize rooms because, historically, some seminars have had, like, 50 kids in them.” 

Jackson said, like the Social Justice Council’s Aequitas Week, students attending the symposium will be grouped into bubbles in which they will remain throughout the day.

Despite this, Stephen said she is “really excited to do these workshops” and hopefully encourage others to take the class when they are Grade 11 or 12 students. 

“I’m excited to maybe inspire more students to take the class in the future and for everyone to see our workshops,” she said. 

As the date of the symposium approaches, Gladis said he looks forward to seeing his students’ work come together. 

 “These 13 students have put their heart and soul into their projects,” he said. “June 7 is the day that they’re going to be able to kind of shine and bring all that work to fruition.”