Students welcomed at Courageous Conversations

Tamonda Griffiths – News Writer

In response to the 2016 election, Courageous Conversations was created by faculty and staff as an event to gather together and talk about issues that affect the community outside of school.

“We were just aware that a number of people on campus were having very

strong reactions [across] the whole continuum of the political spectrum,” said Elizabeth Keenan, a social work professor.

Keenan said for about the first year and a half the group started out with primarily faculty and staff. It was only recently, Keenan said, that students were invited to participate in the discussion.

“This has been more of an emergent process,” said Keenan.

Right now, she said the group has been “issue- focused” and while they do invite students to come and get involved, they have not been purposeful in their efforts to attract more students. These Courageous

Conversations are split into three separate conversations, the last one is taking place in November.

Keenan said following that she and her fellow collaborators will talk about what inclusion of undergraduates has brought to the conversations and based on that will make some decisions for the spring.

“If we decide to continue with faculty, staff, and students,” said Keenan, “I think then we’ll be more intentional about reaching out to students.”

Nancy Green, a transfer student, and social work major, said she came to the event to find the commonalities between faculty and students and “learn more about each other.”

“We’re not as diverse as the school is claiming,” said Green.

Green said she passes by the Multicultural Center in the Adanti Student Center and does not see a mixing of different ethnic groups— only separate ethnic groups.

“I want [people] to be bold enough to acknowledge the truth,” said Green. “Don’t wait for something bad to happen to your family member to recognize something is wrong; it should be wrong when it happens to anyone.”

Green said older adults “assume” what goes on inside the minds of the younger generation instead of taking the time to ask them.

“I would not want to be a 16-year-old growing up now,” said Green.

She said there is a lot that can be learned from younger people.

“Fear is what keeps people – fear keeps you in the dark,” Green said. “Asking brings newness. Not speaking and having fear: you will get no resolution…ask.”

Keenan said it was herself and Vice President of Student Affairs Tracy Tyree, who came up with the idea before “brainstorming” what other faculty and staff to invite.

Rosalyn Amenta, a women’s studies professor and director of special projects in the office of student affairs, said she became involved because she felt “a moral obligation.”

“If I don’t seize every opportunity to try to bring about healing and kindness and inclusion to people that have been on the outskirts all their lives,” said Amenta, “then I’ve failed as a person.”

Amenta said this is “the most important task in our lives” and not doing so makes her selfish. She said this is why she teaches what she teaches and works in the Office of Student Affairs.

Photo Credit: Tamonda Griffiths


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