Event to simulate courtroom jury, reveal participants’ notions about race, gender

Participants will act as jury members, discuss how a court case will be decided



Participants will deliberate about the case as a jury, allowing them to delve into their thought process behind their beliefs, implicit biases and preconceived notions.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

Students and faculty members can participate in a virtual courtroom drama during the event, “Defamation Experience,” from 6-8:30 p.m. Nov. 12.

The event is hosted by the Common Reading Program and WSU’s Division of Student Affairs’ Office of Outreach and Education. The event is free and registration closes tonight.

During the event, participants will examine their preconceived notions surrounding race, ethnicity and gender by acting as jury members, said Allen Sutton, executive director for the Office of Outreach and Education. 

The event begins with a 70-minute film called “Defamation,” which is a play written by Todd Logan, Sutton said. 

The case is about an African-American small business owner who sued a Jewish real estate developer for defamation after the developer accused the business owner of stealing a family heirloom.

Sutton said the program would be a way to start a conversation with the student population about prejudices and decide how WSU can move forward together in a unified manner.

Students will be able to use the chat function on Zoom to respond to questions, ask questions and express their opinions, he said. 

There will be a monitor who will make sure the facilitator gets all the comments that are coming through, Sutton said. Students will have multiple opportunities to communicate through chat or voice.

After students watch the film, they will deliberate about the case as a jury. This allows people to delve into their thought process behind their beliefs, implicit biases and preconceived notions, he said.

There is a follow-up event to the program that will occur from 6-7 p.m. Nov. 19 via Zoom, he said. Students will be able to continue the conversation, ask questions and try to dig deeper into the issues around diversity, equity and inclusion. Students do not have to attend both events.