On Wednesday, Feb. 14, the Annual Open VISIONS Forum scheduled for the following day, “Going Viral with Juju Chang and Masih Alinejad” was canceled with little to no notice. Set to take place on Thursday, Feb. 15, the event was canceled the night before. 

The email that students received had no explanation other than “The Annual Student Forum, presented in collaboration with FUSA and the College of Arts & Sciences Common Ground Lecture Series has been POSTPONED due to unforeseen circumstances and will be RESCHEDULED for a date in the near future.”  

The Open VISIONS Forum occurs every year with a variety of guest speakers throughout the school year. These speakers are chosen to allow students to understand more about the world and have an open conversation about global, potentially controversial topics. 

Fairfield University began this tradition in 2005 with a discussion led by Helen Prejean, C.S.J. Prejean was a nun who counseled inmates on death row. She visited Fairfield because “Lone Rangers don’t do well in social justice … We need the strength of others.” The Open VISIONS Forum has a goal of opening the minds of young students and Prejean hoped to inspire Fairfield to participate more in social justice reform. 

In 2010, Dee Dee Meyers and Liz Cheney hosted the Open VISIONS Forum. Meyers is the former press secretary to former President Bill Clinton, a political analyst and a writer. Cheney is the daughter of former Vice President Richard Cheney and has made a lot of progress in political office. According to their event announcement, both came to Fairfield to discuss the state of the electorate at the time and how to exercise a successful political campaign. 

Past students, like Vincent Rotondo ‘23 believe these events “give students an opportunity to learn more about the world outside of the Fairfield bubble and can broaden their understanding of different events”. 

More recently, in 2023, students had the option to see Kaitlin Collins, anchor and former White House correspondent for CNN. They also had the opportunity to speak with James Campbell, a radio show host focused on finances and Ponzi schemes, Peter Shapiro, the head of Sirius XM’s Grateful Dead channel and Rhadika Dirks, the founder and CEO of XLabs, as well as many others. 

Having outstanding guests who are professionals of a high level in their fields come talk to students is a perk of being a Fairfield student. Meaghan Toomey ‘26 described the Open VISIONS Forum as a good opportunity to “have an open conversation.” 

Many students take advantage of these opportunities that happen frequently throughout the year. Brynn Murphy ‘25 said, “Quick Center events are really cool and a lot of professors have their students go to experience something new.”

The most recent forum was set to include conversations with Juju Chang and Masih Alinejad. Chang is a journalist who works for ABCNews and currently hosts Nightline. As a professional in the industry who has also worked for Good Morning America, Chang is an expert on journalism and the media. 

Alinejad is an Iranian-American journalist. When living in Iran, she started social movements against the oppression of women by not wearing her hijab. She has been described as “the woman whose hair frightens Iran”. This movement is called My Stealthy Freedom and it has 11 million followers and participants. Through this she inspired many to break the compulsory law of wearing the hijab. 

She has spoken up about the oppressive regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran and tried to change the laws there. In doing so, she has inspired many, but also become a target. 

Alinejad also wrote a book, entitled “The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran,” to tell her story and how she fought back against a government that unjustly controls women. 

Many Fairfield University students were excited to hear her and Chang speak at the forum this past week. In political science and social justice classes across the university professors, like Dr. Garcia-Iommi greatly encouraged their students to attend the event to learn more about how the media plays a role in global politics and how the treatment of women, especially women of color is throughout the world. In countries, like Iran, women are trapped in a perpetual cycle of mistreatment, abuse, and are granted little civil liberties. Alinejad is working to stop this from continuing. 

One student says that they were “really excited for the event to happen. I wanted to meet Alinejad. She’s a social justice warrior. And Chang has always been one of my idols. I’m kind of disappointed that the event isn’t happening anymore.” 

However, students can remain hopeful because the Quick Center for the Arts has said that the event is only postponed. It will be rescheduled for a later date. Hopefully, this happens because these speakers could shed a great deal of light on very serious situations and help enlighten students on social justice issues across the world and even in our own backyard. 

About The Author

Junior | Head News Editor | Political Science Major | International Business, Spanish Minors | Boston, MA

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