Human Rights Day Steering Committee receives award

November 5 2007

The Human Rights Day Steering Committee at Indiana State University has been recognized as a 2007 Affiliate Intellectual Freedom Award winner by the National Council of Teachers of English.

The committee received recognition because it has “produced and promoted Human Rights Day at Indiana State University which has grown since 2002 from a community program to an international event attracting over 2,500 attendees,” according to a statement from NCTE.

Dedicated to human rights at many levels, the event -- which is held with the support and participation of the greater Terre Haute community -- focuses on themes such as poverty, minority rights and freedom of expression.

“We want to raise consciousness on a broad range of issues related to human rights and to emphasize that people are more alike than different,” said Chuck Norman, associate professor of sociology at ISU and Human Rights Day coordinator. “The workshops provide practical information for individuals who want our democracy to work. Events like this result in understanding and tolerance that can contribute to a safer, better world.”

The steering committee comprises community and campus members, some of whom are affiliated with sponsors such as Amnesty International, NAACP, the Social Justice Endowment, the Eugene V. Debs Foundation and the Wabash Valley Central Labor Council.

Activities have included speakers on social justice, theatrical performances, the funding and building of a Habitat for Humanity home and a student art exhibit. Attendees range from middle school students to octogenarians.

“Human Rights Day gives our students in all fields a chance to put their knowledge into thoughtful action,” Norman said. “Indiana State emphasizes community engagement and experiential learning, and this event is just one way to utilize an integrated arts approach that promotes learning at all levels and ages. People get excited about issues, and by learning meaningful ways to be involved, they feel empowered and begin to serve in their communities.”

The NCTE Intellectual Freedom Awards recognize those individuals, groups or institutions that have advanced the cause of intellectual freedom. The winners will be honored at the NCTE Annual Convention in New York City on Nov. 17. Stanley Evans, associate professor of English and Human Rights Day Steering Committee member, will be receiving the award on behalf of the entire committee.

The Indiana Council of Teachers of English nominated the Human Rights Day Steering Committee for the award.

The theme for Human Rights Day 2008, which will be celebrated on April 15, is Article 21 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

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PHOTO: Download high-res photo here: Human Rights Day

CUTLINE: Francisco Jiménez, Ph.D., professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at Santa Clara University, Calif., speaks during Human Rights Day on the Indiana State University campus with more than 200 local seventh-graders about his childhood as a Mexican immigrant. The children had read his book, “The Circuit,” with lesson plans prepared and taught by ISU students, as part of the human rights event. (Tony Campbell/ISU)

CONTACT: Chuck Norman, associate professor of sociology and Human Rights Day coordinator, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3433 or c-norman@indstate.edu

WRITER: Katie Spanuello, media relations assistant director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3790 or kspanuello@isugw.indstate.edu

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The Human Rights Day Steering Committee at Indiana State University has been recognized as a 2007 Affiliate Intellectual Freedom Award winner by the National Council of Teachers of English.

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