JMU Brings Egypt Discussion to Campus

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The protests in Egypt might seem worlds away, but Dr. Mary Gayne at James Madison University believes it can truly impact people everywhere.

She has organized a seminar called Understanding the Event, designed to bring faculty, students and community members together to ask questions and spark a conversation.

Gayne says historical events like this have an effect on the the global economy, which in turn, can affect the economy in the Valley.

"There are particularly important things about this that connect, for our students, with the mission that the University has, which is really to prepare students to be educated and enlightened citizens," says Gayne.

The event starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday and will be in 105 Showker Hall.

Gayne says that people barely knew what was happening in Egypt just days ago.

"I said, 'So what are we to make of what's going on in Egypt,' and it wasn't on the students' radar," comments Gayne.

Now, Joe Townsend, a sophomore studying political science, is paying attention. He says Americans can learn a lesson from the Middle Eastern protests.

"This is a really good opportunity for us to see that a lot of people over there want to move forward," explains Townsend. "They're people, too. Things aren't the way they are in the Middle East because of the citizens of the countries. They don't want it to be that way."

He says the protesters aren't all that different from us.

"They're demanding their freedom," adds Townsend. "They're standing up for their rights, just like we've done in America several times throughout our history."

One difference is that they've organized their protests online through Facebook and Twitter. Townsend says that's a testament to the strength of new media in this generation.

"I think seeing people in other countries who are being oppressed use those types of tools to make their lives better can be something we take a lesson from," adds Townsend. "Hopefully that will be a positive thing that comes out of it. Americans can start to appreciate, and maybe even utilize the freedoms that we have, the freedom of expression."