DeFilipps Tackles Limits of Liberal Activism in Last Lecture

Imagine that you are a professor at Seattle University and are told that you had to prepare for the last lecture you will ever give. You would probably focus your lecture on a topic that you are both knowledgeable and passionate about. This is what the Seattle U NAEF scholars attempt to capture with their Last Lecture series, and this year’s speaker will be Joseph DeFilippis.

DeFilippis is an assistant professor at Seattle U who has national recognition for being a bi-racial leader within in the LGBTQ community.

“The event is really exciting. The professor gets to share what they know and what they’re passionate about, and if this was their last lecture this would be the speech they would want to leave as their last mark,” said senior psychology major Jennifer Cruz.

DeFilippis has presented research within the LGBTQ communities, focusing primarily on topics such as family formations, queer activism, and LGBTQ poverty issues. Having extensive knowledge in this subject, DeFilippis will be presenting the lecture titled “Why I Am Against ‘Equality’ (And Not Too Keen About ‘Diversity’ Either): The Limitations of Contemporary Liberal Activism.” The lecture will showcase DeFilippis’ knowledge on the subject, which he acquired through research during 15 years of working with low-income LGBTQ communities.
Choosing DeFilippis as speaker for the event wasn’t random. It was a process, said Cruz—one that took considerable thought and time.

“We nominate professors we believe have talked about an interesting subject or are really passionate about what they do,” Cruz said, “At our retreat, each person gives a bid to the professor they want. The student that nominated him had taken classes from him and was just very interested in the research he was doing. We choose him, thinking about his research and how he is in the classroom and how he engages with students that aren’t in sociology social work context.”

The group who nominates the professor to speak at the Last Lecture are scholars a part of the NAEF co-hort. These scholars are students who received the NAEF scholarships based not only on their grades, but also their leadership and campus involvement. Cruz, being one of the scholars, explained that this scholarship was made possible by Sue Naef, who left both her estate and her wealth to Seattle U.

Emphasizing the importance of the event, Cruz noted that students who attend would be able to benefit from the opportunity to educate themselves in a lecture that isn’t based in a class setting, and gives a strong representation as to what this university has to offer.

“It’s not that we’re asking, we’re inviting them. Knowing that this is a once a year event, we are very particular in that we only choose the best of our faculty,” Cruz said.

Sophomore International Studies major Marthadina Russell shared her reasons for expressing interest in attending the event.

“I thought it was an interesting choice because the LGBTQ community is very present on campus, at the same time it represents people who should be represented, talking about a relevant issue in an informal setting,” Russell said. “Defilippis, is bringing new insight to the situation and bringing insight that it is more than two dimensional. I’m interested to see what he has to say about that.” Russell also viewed the event as an opportunity to discuss the Difilippis’s topic on global scale. “The issue of gay rights is being brought to the attention to many more citizens, and I think there are many more ideas of what should be done in the LGBT community.” Russell said, further commenting that with this increase in awareness, more opinions are being brought forth, allowing for the lecture to appeal to those who are educated on the matter and those who are new to it.

Paige Reohr, a sophomore psychology major, is one of the students who is still fairly new in understanding what the LGBTQ community represents.

“I’m not very educated about this topic, but I see a lot of movements and student involvement on campus. This increase in awareness has made me come to realize that it is important for me to become educated along with the others who attend Seattle U,” Reohr said.

The Last Lecture will occur this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Bannan room 102. All students and staff are welcome to attend and listen as Defilippis presents his Last Lecture.

Shelby may be reached at [email protected]