This post was written by library student ambassador Sol Lewites. Sol is a junior biology major.
The last Faculty Pub Night of the 2019 fall semester featured associate professor of political science Andrew Dilts. Dilts is currently working on two book projects touching upon the subjects of race, gender, sexuality, radical queer thought, and trans activism. Dilts recently co-edited Abolishing Carceral Society along with Brian Lovato, Charmaine Chua and Dylan Rodriguez. Abolishing Carceral Society encompasses the abolitionist movement and its fight against prisons, colonialism, patriarchy, and capitalism. Artists, members of academia, and activists joined forces to bring together this publication which aims to express the importance of decolonization and antiracism.
As the library’s Von der Ahe Family Suite flooded with guests eager to learn from the political theorist, I asked a couple students what brought them to attend the event. “I am a political science major and the topic of abolition has interested me for a very. When I saw Professor Dilts was presenting I made it a point to come tonight” said a junior. “I’ve always wondered what abolitionism really means and I wanted to educate myself on the work that writers and political activists are doing,” said another political science major.
Charmaine Chua, assistant professor of global studies at UC Santa Barbara told the crowd about her experiences with the abolitionist movement and talked about what she learned from Dylan Rodriguez’s prison abolition organization—critical resistance. Professor Chua stressed the importance of speaking up for those who are being wronged and took time to disprove common misconceptions about what abolition is and what it is not. Dylan Rodriguez, professor of Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside, made some powerful statements about how “there is no reforming genocide, that is an attempt to deframe suffering and pain.” Brian Lovato, assistant professor of politics, administration, and justice at Cal State Fullerton, shared how he often has disagreements with people on Facebook about colonialism and stolen land. Lovato said people often ask him “What are we supposed to do, return it?” to which he replies “YES! That is the whole point.”
The event was filled with meaningful words from speakers knowledgeable on the subject and willing to educate the guests on the importance of the abolitionist movement. Dilts read a couple pages from Abolishing Carceral Society in which the authors highlighted the importance of understanding power dynamics and “how those in power use differences to divide and exploit us.”
Following the speakers’ individual comments, the crowd began to ask them questions, sparking multiple conversations that were both enlightening and informative. Students who attended the event shared their impressions of the talk and mentioned they heard about it through the flyers posted around the library and the monthly newsletter. Other students mentioned that their teachers encouraged them to attend and seemed thrilled by the event.
Professor Dilt’s Pub Night ignited a conversation that we must all take part in, especially during this increasingly political time.