Student dialogue focuses on health care question - right or privilege?

For immediate release…
Monday – Nov. 18, 2013

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Is health care a right or a privilege? Northern Kentucky University students will discuss this important public policy question during a Democracy Square Live dialogue on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 3-4:30 p.m. in Room 106 of the James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union.

All NKU students are invited to participate in the discussion, which will be facilitated by Dr. Ryan Salzman, assistant professor in the NKU Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice.

“Democracy Square Live dialogues are designed to give students an opportunity to talk about current events and public policy in a civil, informed fashion with each other,” said Mark Neikirk, executive director of the NKU Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, which sponsors Democracy Square Live dialogues. “These discussions are not about advocating one position or another, but about exploring all sides of an issue. We ask students to do some background reading in advance so that they come with a base of knowledge about the topic.”

That background reading will typically include stories from The New York Times, USA Today and the Associated Press. All three are NKU’s partners in a newspaper readership program designed to create a climate of inquiry on campus. For this discussion, the selected readings are supplemented by viewing an exchange from the 2008 presidential debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. At one point, McCain says government should try to assure “available and affordable health care” for all without imposing a mandate while Obama counters, “I think it should be a right for every American.”

“Health care, obviously, has been in the headlines lately but, with this event, we wanted to step back from the issue of the day and ask a deeper question about government’s role in this sector,” Neikirk said. “Dr. Salzman was worked with us to select a range of readings that examine the issue from both sides and will stimulate a good dialogue where students with varying views can hear from each other.”

Democracy Square Live dialogues have been held on a variety of topics this semester at NKU, including on campus First Amendment rights, privacy rights vs. national security and social justice in the textile industry, a topic linked to this year’s common reading for freshmen, “Where Am I Wearing,” by Kelsey Timmerman.

Wednesday’s discussion is open all NKU students, who can RSVP to Also, students can comment in advance of the dialogue on a Democracy Square whiteboard in the foyer of Steely Library, where the question – “Is health care a right or privilege?” – is posted for commentary using dry erase markers. The board, which has a new question each week, provides a free speech space for written discussion of current events and public policy.

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