Human Rights Film Series presents student films that promote diversity

Students in a University of Connecticut education curriculum and instruction course showcased their short documentaries in Konover Auditorium Wednesday, April 26. The course, titled “Power, Privilege and Public Education,” asked students to analyze how power and privilege play a role in the public education system. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

Students in a University of Connecticut education curriculum and instruction course showcased their short documentaries in Konover Auditorium Wednesday, April 26. The course, titled “Power, Privilege and Public Education,” asked students to analyze how power and privilege play a role in the public education system. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

Students in a University of Connecticut education curriculum and instruction course showcased their short documentaries in Konover Auditorium Wednesday. The course, titled “Power, Privilege and Public Education,” asked students to analyze how power and privilege play a role in the public education system. Students then took the knowledge they acquired in the course and applied it to their six student made documentaries. For the films, students partnered up with local groups and causes in order to get a deeper understanding of the problems power and privilege present in the American public education system.

Three of the films presented at the event, “Visibly Invisible,” “Mascot Naming Craze” and “Invisible Advocacy,” partnered with the Pequot Museum and Research Center to discuss the prevalence of Native American stereotypes perpetuated by sports teams, school logos, mascots and the media. These groups argued Native American imagery was often present in American society, but it is often an inaccurate and offensive caricature of a rich culture.

Student filmmaker, Daniel Gottlieb, believes creating these films is incredibly important for helping people understand different cultures.

“It gives people a chance to see different problems going on in society, you get a different perspective. I’m from a school that has an Indian as a mascot and I always thought its OK,” said Gottlieb, a second-semester ACES major. “Now, thinking back, it’s incredibly offensive because it doesn’t show the proper rituals and how these tribes are actually represented in their own cultures.”

“Opening the LID to Diversity: Gaining Momentum for the Movement” discussed the idea of “Power, Privilege and Public Education” more directly, as student filmmakers joined forces with Leadership in Diversity (LID), a group dedicated to bringing more diversity to students studying in the field of education. LID also encourages future teachers to promote diversity in their classrooms, as a way to nurture students from all backgrounds.

One of the other films covered Connecticut’s proposed idea of implementing a human rights curriculum in public schools across the state. Filmmakers interviewed high school teachers and students, providing audience members with a unique perspective on what is important in a human rights curriculum.

The last of the UConn student films, titled “The Sheff Movement: A People’s History,” gave a detailed history on the racial integration of schools in Hartford and the greater United States.

The final film of the night was created by high school students at E.O. Smith, and was titled “Between the Divide.” The documentary talked about the racial divide within the United States, and featured interviews with UConn faculty and students, as well as high school teachers.

After each film, there was a short question-and-answer session where attendees asked questions and gave student filmmakers constructive criticism on how they could improve their documentaries.

Marissa Smoller, a sixth-semester elementary education major who had taken the course in a previous semester, thought that most majors would benefit from what was learned in the course.

“I think that a lot people other than (education majors), like diverse majors, would get a lot out of this course as well, just to see the injustices in our education systems,” she said.


Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at lauren.brown@uconn.edu.