Defund the Police?

Project Dialogue Hosts its First Event of the 2020-2021 School Year

Raag Venkat

The Project Dialogue club hosted its first event this past Wednesday with the topic addressing defunding the police force in the United States.

Project Dialogue is a bipartisan club that aims to promote civil discourse throughout the community, by equipping students with the tools to have effective dialogue and discussion. Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic which has spurred a hybrid learning model, the event was hosted online in a webinar format via the platform Zoom.

Debaters Higgins, Greenstone, Gupta, Kettles, Shan, and Stachowiak during the Project Dialogue Debate. (Photo by Raag Venkat)

“I think Project Dialogue serves as a really great way to expose the other sides of issues that a lot of people might believe are one sided,” said junior Ashton Higgins. “More importantly, I think the panels do a really great job of showing how these two sides interact with one another in an informed discussion.”

The event was modeled after a World Schools debate format with two teams of three individuals per team. Juniors Ashton Higgins, Aimee Stachowiak and Cameron Kettles made up the proposition, defending the act of defunding the police. Juniors Caroline Greenstone, Ashley Shan and Jothi Gupta made up the opposition, opposing the act of defunding the police. The sides in which the participants argued for were randomized and were not necessarily based on their personal beliefs outside of the event.

Head Debate Coach Aaron Timmons introducing the Project Dialogue Event. (Photo by Raag Venkat)

While the proposition argued that the act of defunding the police can prevent the abuse of funds and fund programs like education, affordable housing and healthcare, the opposition claimed that these only incentives other routes and funding, making police more aggressive as they feel threatened. The opposition also argued that increasing funding works better because it allows for better training, and other progressive partner programs, according to Higgins and Stachowiak.

Many students and faculty feel Project Dialogue is an important space to promote civil discourse.

“Our objective is to teach both students and adults the skills of dialoguing with those who have different opinions, perspectives and cultural modes of discourse,” said Assistant to the Directors of College Counseling Pam Hopkins, who is a sponsor for the group. “We are advocating for sufficient faculty training to find the perfect balance of autonomy and accountability.”

Stachowiak agrees, highlighting the importance of current events.

“[Project Dialogue] first reminds us about important topics occurring in the world that we must discuss,” Stachowiak said. “It secondly reminds us that there are different opinions on topics that we must understand how to discuss. Just because someone has a different point of view does not make them a worse person or make them wrong.”