The Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation has announced the winners of its inaugural Student Civil Liberty Contest.
MCSII called for University of Wisconsin-Stout students to submit original essays, poetry, photos, artwork and videos to help educate others about civil liberties.
Messages and liberties discussed by the 15 contestants covered topics including the freedoms of speech, press, association and religion, the right to privacy, due process rights and economic freedom.
The winners of the inaugural contest are:
- First: Elizabeth Kelly, for her photos of riot damage in Kenosha, $500
- Second: Kathryn Reeves, for her essay LGBTQIA+ Censorship in Schools, $250
- Third: Katrina Franda, for her poem Fighting for “Freedom”, $100
Digital versions of the winning entries are posted on the MCSII website and the original work is displayed in the MCSII office in Bowman Hall.
MCSII Director Tim Shiell, professor of philosophy and free speech expert, hopes the contest stimulates students and viewers to further thought and study about civil liberties, which he calls “the bedrock of democracy.”
The benefits of inclusivity in literature
Kathryn Reeves is a senior double majoring in art education and studio art. She plans to teach at the college level and explore diverse artists with her students. Reeves believes that seeing yourself in the people you’re studying is an important part of learning.
But in her middle school and high school art classes, she remembers the majority of artists discussed were straight, cisgender, white men. As an openly gay woman, the lack of diversity was completely appalling, Reeves said. And she had almost no access to queer literature.
“Because of this, it took me a long time to figure out who I was. I spent a lot of time wondering what was wrong with me and why I didn’t seem to see myself in any of the literature we were exploring in the classroom,” Reeves wrote in her artist’s statement.
In her essay LGBTQIA+ Censorship in Schools, Reeves researched censorship in schools and libraries across the U.S., expressed her thoughts on the rights of the nation’s youth and reflected on the challenges she faces as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Reeves, of Albertville, Minn., believes that “Children need to be exposed to a wide range of peoples and groups in order to be a tolerant person,” she wrote. “Without actively including all types of people, we teach our children to be exclusive.”
Reeves hopes her essay shows people that creating access to queer material in schools is an essential part of teaching well-rounded and tolerant members of society.
MCSII is planning a second civil liberties contest for spring 2021.