Film asks tough questions

Gannon University was one of several universities across the country to show the film, “Inequality for All” last week.

The event was hosted by Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor, and following the showing of the film was a live interactive webcast with Reich himself.

The film detailed the increasing divide between the rich and the poor in America. Reich asked viewers to consider three questions: what is happening? Why? And is it a problem?

According to Gretchen Fairly, director of service learning, Gannon was offered this opportunity through the Pennsylvania Campus Contact, which Gannon is a member of. The organization promotes engagement among college students and once in a while, it offers Gannon something cool and interesting to bring to campus, Fairly said.

Information Pennsylvania Campus Contact gives Gannon varies; sometimes it’s information on new resources, an upcoming conference or training and occasionally films.

The film was something that the organization offered since the movie was out and “the film company organized this national webcast among colleges all across the U.S.,” Fairly said.

The event was also part of the annual campus-wide celebration of MLK Day Commemoration, which began on Jan. 20 and extended beyond, according to Sara Lichtenwalter, Ph.D., an associate professor of the social work program at Gannon.

Every year, the MLK Planning Committee works with various groups to bring films or speakers with a social justice theme to campus, Lichtenwalter said.

This isn’t the first time Gannon has participated in a national event and it certainly won’t be the last.

The film had a good turnout; 35 were in attendance and students represented three classes and two clubs.

According to Lichtenwalter, the issue of inequality in America is something that Gannon students, along with the rest of society, need to be aware of.

“It is a concern that we live in a nation where the 400 wealthiest Americans own more than the bottom 150 million combined,” Lichtenwalter said. “Robert Reich brings our attention to the link between the strength of the middle class and the strength of America.”

Lichtenwalter said that she hopes the students who attended the film are inspired to try and fix this problem.

“I hope this film sparks an energized and sustained conversation about Reich’s proposals on getting ‘big money’ out of politics, raising the minimum wage, investing in education, instituting the ‘Buffett Rule’, and anchoring executive pay to more reasonable proportion of workers,” Lichtenwalter said. “Before 1977, the average CEO’s pay was about 50 times greater than the average employee, compared to 350 times greater today.”

Fairly said that this issue needs to be discussed because of its importance.

“It certainly is a timely topic,” Fairly said. “The president addressed it during his state of the union address and the Senate is talking about minimum wage, so it’s very timely. I think people are still struggling economically from the last recession.

“But what the film did was show that it was a longer trend and put it into historical context. It’s a very eye-opening thing.”

The winners of the MLK Multi-Media Award were announced at the film. First place went to Roman Denisyuk for his series for four sketches, titled “Unfortunately … reality.”

Second place went to Kaitlynn Perkins for her video “Interview with Dr. Baker.”

Third place went to Michael Fujito for his satirical play, titled “Three Wild Dogs.”



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