Honors program brings former State Dept. member to WSU

(Source By: Aleta Airmet Tew) Ann Wright

On Tuesday, Weber State University’s honors program and the women and gender studies program will sponsor Ann Wright as the next speaker in the honors program’s Food for Thought series.

Wright worked as a colonel in the United States Army for 13 years before retiring and working for the U.S. State Department. In 2003, she was one of three U.S. State Department officials who resigned in direct protest of the invasion of Iraq.

According to Daniel Simmons, a senior in political science and one of the organizers of the event, Wright left the State Department because she did not agree with the way the invasion of Iraq was being executed, and she thought the paperwork done on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks didn’t sufficiently hold some individuals she feels could have prevented the attack accountable.

Since retiring from the State Department, Wright has been an advocate for peace, giving lectures on the importance of peace and of being involved in politics.

Corbin Standley, a junior in psychology who helped organize the event, said he thinks students would be surprised if they realized how much international politics affect the U.S., Utah and even Ogden.

Standley added that he believes Americans are still feeling the effects of 9/11 today in many ways.

“From airport security to international relations, it’s still felt worldwide, not only just in our country but all over the world,” Standley said. “It ranges from oil prices to peace in foreign countries and beyond.”

Standley said he thinks many students go through college unaware of what is going on outside of their realm of activity. For Standley, it’s important for students to be aware of what’s going on around the world to become involved in politics and foreign relations where possible.

Standley said he hopes students will attend this Food for Thought event and come away with a new perspective about politics, foreign policy and how what happens in America affects everyone else, and vice versa.

Simmons said students should attend the event even if they aren’t usually interested in politics or foreign policy. As an honors program student, he thinks it’s important for students to be able to participate in “deliberative discussion” in a positive way.

“It’s good for students to get engaged in this type of current event,” Simmons said. “Whether or not you agree with Ann Wright and her positions and the actions she’s taken, it’s important to be able to listen to that and engage in a deliberative discussion. That’s part of being a good citizen and part of the college experience . . . learning to engage in that kind of interaction.”

Simmons said he thinks students should take advantage of this opportunity to learn from and talk with Wright, especially since high-profile speakers like her are not common at WSU. He added that he wants students to come to this event and be able to hear another person’s opinion, and learn from it whether they agree or not.

“I hope (students) are able to come away with being able to accept that there are other opinions than their own . . . and participate in a discourse that doesn’t involve shouting or yelling or calling of names,” Simmons said.

Marilyn Diamond, honors program academic adviser, said she is excited for students to be able to listen to Wright speak. She said the Food for Thought series was made to allow students to learn about topics outside their normal study. She added that not only does Food for Thought feed students intellectually, it also provides free refreshments to attendants.

Food for Thought is a free event. Tomorrow’s discussion with Wright will be held in the Stewart Library’s Special Collections Room on the third floor. The event begins at noon and is expected to last for an hour and a half. Refreshments will be provided after the event.