Diversity Dialogues spark conversation

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The Office for Inclusive Excellence (OIE) hosted their second “Diversity
Dialogue”, Oct. 29, which focused on the LGBTQ+ community and how to promote inclusion.

The dialogue was the second of four that are planned for this semester.

Keisha Booker, the assistant director of multicultural development, said that the dialogues started after previous President Norton’s Courageous Conversations.

“We found that students weren’t really given the space to have more smaller, in-depth conversations afterwards, so we would be presenting a very broad topic and we wouldn’t be giving the space for conversation to happen,” said Booker.

The dialogues provide a way for students to voice their opinions and have more intimate conversations. The conversations are facilitated by Booker who was joined by the Assistant Director of the Women’s Center and Pride Center, Lyosha Gorshkov.

At the start of the conversation, students and faculty introduced themselves and then also told the group the pronouns that they use.

“I think because these are small group conversations, it gives an opportunity for everyone to participate and everyone to feel comfortable participating,” said Booker. “I think when the larger group is happening and we’re having conversations about diversity in a large group, then it doesn’t give the students a chance to reflect; it doesn’t give the students a chance to ask questions and really interact with the material.”

All four diversity dialogues have different topics that tie into promoting diversity.
This particular dialogue was focused on gender identity and sexual orientations and how they differ.

The dialogues are not strictly focused on what Booker and Gorshkov have
planned, as they allow students to take the conversations in any direction that they want.

“I think the students take the conversations in places that I myself, even as a facilitator, am not expecting and it really helps me to understand the students mindset and then it helps to understand better ways to program for the students,” said Booker.

Booker said that the conversation is always tied back to Slippery Rock.

At the end of each session, three questions are asked to the group and this is the only time that students are asked to speak at least once. These questions are, “What is challenging about this dialogue,” “What do you feel went well within the dialogue,” and then provide the group with a takeaway. These questions are used to provide feedback for the dialogue, and help them improve on that for the next session.

“I like the three questions that we ask at the end, because, I think in those three questions, even the quietest person in the room can find something to share, so it’s the only time we ask everyone to share and it’s my favorite part,” said Booker.

The next Diversity Dialogue will take place on Tuesday, November 5 in the Smith Student Center.

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