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79th season of The Forum opens Sept. 22 with Antonia Okafor

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: Forum guest Antonia Okafor is a national speaker and vocal advocate of concealed carry laws, particularly on college campuses. She served as the southwest regional director for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) which lobbied for the passage of the 2017 Texas campus carry law.

The 79th season of The Forum, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s signature lecture series, opens Sept. 22 with author, speaker and gun rights activist Antonia Okafor.

This virtual Forum event will begin at 7:30 p.m. with a one-hour presentation by Okafor, followed by a 30-minute question and answer session moderated by Jake Wrasse, legislative and community relations liaison for UW-Eau Claire. 

Okafor, a frequent contributor to CNN and FOX News, serves as the director and national spokesperson for the Gun Owners of America organization and was the founder of EMPOWERED, a nonprofit organization advocating for education and training of young women in firearms use for self-defense, particularly college-age women.

Jake Wrasse Headshot

Jake Wrasse, legislative and community relations liaison at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

“For the better part of a century, UW-Eau Claire has engaged with luminaries from the leading edges of cultural conversation through the Forum,” Wrasse says. “By intentionally creating a space where controversial issues may be examined thoughtfully through listening, learning and respectful dialogue, the series reflects the university’s mission for students to develop critical insight, empathy and intellectual courage. Ms. Okafor’s perspective on the intersection of race, gender and gun rights is a timely and fitting start to this new season of the Forum.”

Following a long-standing Forum tradition, Okafor will be introduced by a current Blugold student: this time, Megan Schmitz, a sophomore communication major from Waterville, Minnesota.

Selected for the role, in part, for her success on the university forensics team, Schmitz looks forward to helping to ensure that The Forum series continues another deep-seated tradition, that of presenting to students and the community a diverse array of opinion and subject matter.

“For students and the community, it's important to listen to other people's perspectives so when we form an opinion on a subject, we understand that topic from multiple viewpoints,” Schmitz says. “For me, it is an opportunity to gain a more well-rounded and educated opinion about gun rights and related subjects. I’m coming to it with a different opinion than our guest, but I want to understand why others are so passionate on this subject, and I hope to learn as much as possible.”

Tickets providing the streaming link are free to UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff, and can be purchased for $5 by the general public at the UW-Eau Claire ticketing website. An email with confirmation and streaming information will be sent after registration or ticket purchase.

Visit The Forum website for information on the full 2021-22 season schedule.