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Members of OHIO, Athens communities engage in conversation on racial dynamics, inequality

As seen in Compass:

Members of OHIO, Athens communities engage in conversation on racial dynamics, inequality
Jan 29, 2015
By McKenzie Powell

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Tuesday, Jan. 20, Ohio University held one of its most successful Campus Conversations yet, drawing members of the OHIO and Athens communities to campus for meaningful discussions on racial dynamics and inequality.

During the event, more than 100 participants, including Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl, engaged in active, intellectual and honest conversation on various topics of race and inequality. Some of those topics included “Being Black at OHIO and in Athens,” “The History of Representation and Misrepresentation,” and “Privilege.”

Held from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Baker University Center Ballroom, the Campus Conversation was open to the entire OHIO and Athens communities and was designed to allow participants to ask questions, raise concerns, share their personal experiences and engage in constructive conversations in a safe environment.

“I think it’s critically important for us as a University to provide a space for this kind of dialogue to happen amongst community members,” said Ryan Lombardi, OHIO’s vice president for student affairs. “I think our responsibility is really ensuring that we always have this kind of space available for our community as we work through difficult issues.”

The topic for this Campus Conversation was developed in response to the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland and Staten Island.

“Given the recent incidents of national unrest that have occurred in communities throughout our country and that have impacted people on our campus, we decided we needed to come together as a campus and a community to discuss these issues,” said Jenny Hall-Jones, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, who helped organize and participated in the event. “We decided this was going to be our next campus conversation.”

Each table at the campus conversation had its own topic, as well as a facilitator to help lead the discussion and establish ground rules for the conversation. Participants were asked to follow seven ground rules, including maintaining confidentiality, speaking for oneself, and listening with respect and curiosity.

“I was grateful for what I thought were really very honest statements at the table and the ability of people to state different points of view and listen compassionately to each other, and the real desire for continued conversation,” said Laura Black.

An associate professor of communication studies, Black facilitated an “Open Topic” table where participants were able to engage in conversation about any issue of their choosing.

To read the full article click here.

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