Keynote Speaker Postponed

Audrey Hecker, News Editor

This year’s Power and Privilege Symposium (PPS) keynote speaker will be 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee and activist Amanda Nguyen, according to an email sent out on Feb. 8 from the Symposium Chair. She will be speaking at Cordiner Hall on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.

Nguyen is also the CEO and Founder of Rise, “a national civil rights nonprofit [helping] people pen their own civil rights into existence,” according to their website. Nguyen’s own experience with rape—and the subsequent lack of action taken on the part of the government—led her to a life of activism. In solidarity with other victims, “she penned her own civil rights into existence and unanimously passed the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights,” according to the Symposium Chair email.

Since the ratification of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, “21 bills protecting sexual violence survivors have been created modeled off of her federal law,” stated the email, and “the federal law was the 21st bill in modern U.S. history to pass unanimously on the record.”

Nguyen has also “been named a Forbes 30 Under 30, by Foreign Policy as a Top 100 Leading Global Thinker, Marie Claire as a Young Woman of the Year, and The Tempest’s #1 Woman of Color Trailblazer,” stated the Chair’s email.

Nguyen served President Barack Obama as his Deputy White House Liaison in the United States Department of State and has previously worked at NASA.

The Power and Privilege Executive Team have always been committed to seeking out inspiring activists that accurately reflect the annual PPS theme. Shubhra Tewari, sophomore and PPS co-director of programming, cites motivation as the primary task of the keynote speaker.

“The role of the keynote speaker at [the Power and Privilege Symposium] is to inspire and motivate the Whitman and wider Walla Walla community to go into the Symposium willing to learn and be active participants in the event,” Tewari said. “[They demonstrate] the importance of activism regarding the issues that are discussed during [the Power and Privilege Symposium] and hopefully [create] enough energy to continue to tackle these issues as a community beyond the one-day Symposium.”

Tewari affirms that Nguyen is the perfect candidate.

“Amanda is exactly the kind of badass, intelligent womxn we were looking for to speak at this year’s Symposium,” Tewari said. “People like her motivate us to do the work we do at the Symposium and continue to fight for issues we are passionate about.”

Nguyen has recently contracted bronchitis and will be unable to attend the Power and Privilege Symposium on Feb. 20. She has agreed to present at Whitman College sometime in April instead.