Semester Concludes with Third Dialogue to Action Event

Rachael Franchini ’19, Associate News Editor

The third and final Dialogue to Action event of the semester took place in the cafeteria on Monday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m., giving students a chance to discuss inclusivity, the image of a “Dickinsonian” and Dickinson’s social climate in light of recent demonstrations questioning issues of race and diversity on campus.

The event was sponsored by Student Senate, Sustained Dialogue, the Dean of Students’ Office and the Popel Shaw Center for Race and Ethnicity.

Vice President of Sustained Dialogue Majer Ma ’16 explained the rationale for holding the dialogue in the dining hall.

“[Fewer] people are intimated by this type of setting,” Ma said. Additionally, she said that many of the social divides that we see on campus are really “brought to light” in the cafeteria by the way people sit in niches and social groups while they eat, making this a good location to observe these divides.

“If people want to engage in dialogue, they can sit down and talk about it while eating, while not eating, or while just passing by…there are many fluid ways to participate,” Anastasia Putri ’16 said about the location.

At the beginning of the dialogue, everyone in the dining hall was encouraged by Ma to participate if they “would like to join a meaningful conversation.”  There was a moderator at each table, and participants were given a sheet that included questions such as “Do you see yourself as a Dickinsonian?  If so, how?” “Is there an image of what a Dickinsonian looks like?  What is this image” and “How do you see Dickinson 30 years from now?”

Each table had five to 10 participants, including students and faculty.  The conversation varied from table to table as those present discussed the prompts and their own takes on inclusivity on campus.

Putri and Moderator-in-Training Shayna Solomon ’16 encouraged participants to “engage in a productive dialogue on everyone’s thoughts,” “speak from the ‘I’ perspective” and “attack the issue, not the person.”

On the topic of being a Dickinsonian and what a Dickinsonian looks like, Natalie Cao ’17 said, “I see myself as a Dickinsonian because I am immersed in the community.”

Catheryn Broady ’16 agreed with Cao, adding that “I think of someone who’s super busy and involved…you can’t do everything but [at Dickinson] there’s no limit to the combinations.”

“There is a good mix of people [at Dickinson] with lots of different interests,” said Mary Hinton ’19. “I don’t think there is one set stereotype that fits, which is good…we don’t want everything to be the same…do we want to be able to define a Dickinsonian?”

Participants also considered the question, “What do you want Dickinson to look like in 30 years?”

“Where we see Dickinson in 20-30 years is not the problem of students then, it’s on us to make the platform now and put in place the changes,” Shayna Sheehan ’19 said.

Attendees overall seemed to find the dialogue, the style of this event and the type of conversation it was encouraging, worthwhile and beneficial.

“It’s the idea of self-checking before we check others,” Cao stated.  “I don’t want to say that we should police our voice but instead of attacking, if you really want to reach the person have a meaningful conversation.”

President of Sustained Dialogue Sara Johnson ’18 said that she hopes to continue these conversations and events next semester.

“Next semester we’re hoping our platform is going to be smaller, with groups of about eight to 10 [for each dialogue event],” Johnson said. “When we email people, we want them to sign into a smaller dialogue.”