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Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement hosts Diversity Dialogues series

November 16, 2016

Since Oct. 7, the Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement has been hosting the Diversity Dialogues series at the UW-River Falls University Center, and it will continue until Dec. 9.

The series provides opportunities for attendees to have free conversations about issues of equity, inclusion, social justice and more. It is open to every student, faculty and staff.

“The Diversity Dialogues are pretty low key events for students, faculty and staff to be able to have a conversation about a variety of topics,” said Christopher Farvour, a UW-La Crosse graduate intern at the Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement.

“UW-La Crosse had similar program called Brown Bag Lunch, but theirs is more focused on staff and faculty development whereas we want to focus on students talking to other students,” said Farvour.

Amarea Witt, a student at UWRF, has consistently attended the previous three events.

“I am with Student Support Services. My advisor, Amy Riddle-Swanson, suggested we attend the first dialogue instead of having our regular Friday meeting. That is when I first learned about the Diversity Dialogues,” Witt said.

When asked whether there was an interesting moment during the dialogues, Witt said, “I think the most interesting moment was when one individual stated his anger with the UW System and their financial support for colored students, both inside and outside of Wisconsin, who attend this school. Hearing this made me rethink everything. That’s when I was told the Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement is working on support for us, with the start of these dialogues.”

The focus of the dialogues is allowing students to openly express their opinions and carry out discussions. Farvour takes the first five minutes to talk about what the topic is and then the people in the room can take the conversation in whichever direction they want.

“I believe it is of huge importance to have the students lead it because they are the ones who are continuously interacting with each other,” Witt said. “It is also important because it is a safe environment for both agreements or disagreements. We cannot expect inclusivity if people are too afraid to talk about it. These conversations aren’t just to pass time; they are about real situations that affect everyone.”

There have been three events so far which have been titled “Privilege 101,” “The Social Construction of Race” and “Debunking Revisionist History.”

The upcoming Diversity Dialogues, “Healing from Toxic Masculinity,” is on Nov. 18 from 2-3 p.m. in the Falls Room of the University Center. The original idea behind that topic is to have a conversation about how the society ascribes gender roles.

“Given that masculine gender identities are the privileged gender identities in our modern world, doing a little of healing and reflection on how we, as a society, construct that could be really critical,” Farvour said.

Farvour said that more and more students have been participating in the events so far.

“I like to think that a lot of them comes from better conversation facilitations and students feeling more comfortable talking about these things,” Farvour said.

Inclusive Campus Engagement hopes to continue to increase student attendance, especially as some of the events may be more relevant to what students are thinking about at that time.

“Our event of December ninth is strictly to do with interviewing, job search processes, something that especially December graduates are definitely thinking about,” Farvour said.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3bw3wv0.