F&M's Inaugural Day of Dialogue

Celebrating Our Identities, Reinventing Our Community

           With classes cancelled this past Wednesday, a rare occurrence here on campus, you would think many students would choose to sleep in, catch up on other work, but to my surprise, as well as many others, there was a large turnout for the inaugural Day of Dialogue.  Conspired through faculty discussions last spring about having a campus wide “safe space” to take time away from work and really hear what each other has to say was truly inspiring as a student to witness. So here is a walk through of the variety of events I went through just this past day. 

Breakfast: “Sticky Situations”

With locations all over campus, I decided to make a friend go with me to breakfast at the Joseph International House, because it's an area on campus I’ve really only been to for foreign language coffee hours, so it's interesting to see it in another light. The facilitators had placed large pieces of paper around the room with questions regarding how entering or having a difficult situation or discussion would be solved or resolved. They had everyone walk around and write down whatever came to mind; ie: how we felt, how we would initiate a discussion. Then after this exercise, we went around and reacted to the different perceptions and with the mix of faculty/ coaches/ and students, it gave a great interpretation of how we all feel pushed against a wall in these tough situations and overcoming is tough but an integral part of developing relationships and trust with others in our community.

Welcome Ceremony: A Dialogue with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum

Former Spelman College president Beverly Tatum, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria” joined President Porterfield for a wide ranging and energizing discussion of diversity issues.  This discussion set many of the day's themes explored by our community, by going beyond the issue of diversity in application of our campus and beyond. 

Lunch: “Open Spaces”

Many of us stay in the same corners of campus, rarely entering spaces that do not seem familiar or inviting. The idea behind this event is for different student groups to host lunch for community members who may never have experienced that group’s space (physical or social). The school decided to randomly assign locations for students to provide variety, taking me to Chi Phi fraternity house. It's rare someone finds themselves in a frat house during the day, and even rarer that sitting next to you is the president of the college and your English professor, so what’s the worst that could happen? You really will never find yourself in this situation ever again in your life. Honestly it was really empowering to hear the fraternity’s exec board introduce themselves and discuss what perception they try to put out to the campus and how the negative and positive perception of others affects them. Then we divided up in small groups and discussed how this space and others may feel exclusive to some, and how we need to break down the barriers that we play up to exist but in reality don’t exist at all. Honestly even with faculty in the room we all agreed this building we all had assumptions about before is so different after we met the people and discussed who they really are and their goals. Something we should all do by breaking down imaginary boundaries and unifying as a campus.