Diversity Dialogues Promote Discussion, Inclusivity

“NDSU is a predominantly white institution in a predominantly white area,” Jered Pigeon, the program coordinator for the office of multicultural programs, said.

Pigeon helps run the Diversity Dialogue series in which students, staff and faculty can have intentional conversations around inclusion.

The topics that have been chosen for the series include privilege, micro-aggressions, cultural appropriation, Black Lives Matter, male masculinity, the LGBTQ community and tolerance to inclusion. The discussions are based on human interaction and understanding to promote diverse perspective and tolerance that will aid in working toward inclusion.

“There are majority and minority cultures present, and it would be a disservice to both to not create a forum to help individuals in different groups understand each other,” Gregor Horvath, a fourth year student in psychology, said.

The dialogues “all seem to point towards cultural issues at hand, especially in today’s world,” Dylan Bendix, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said. “I feel as though it’s a great idea to get people of diverse ethnicities together to help create a sense of unity.”

“I’d like to know how I can best apply my privilege to help others receive the same benefits that I do,” Hovarth said. “Being able to talk about cultural appropriation with people from other cultures would be helpful.”

Pigeon said there are no speakers or presentations, but rather group participants. Instead, Caitlin Johnson, a graduate assistant for gender and sexual diversity, and Pigeon would act as “conversation facilitators.”

“People with different backgrounds will experience different problems and approach those problems in different ways … that’s always a cause for tension, and that tension has absolutely been heightened by recent events,” Horvath said.

“I think that discussions on tough topics are necessary and helpful, as long as they are geared towards understanding one another and loving each other, not just to debate or become angry,” Valerie Cross, a sophomore studying nursing, said.

“The staff from NDSU multicultural programs believe that by holding intentional conversations that bring people together around similarities, the campus climate will positively increase and empower students to engage in topic of diversity and inclusion” Pigeon said.

Nationally, students of color tend to graduate and stay in school at lower percentages than white students.

“Multicultural students graduate at a rate of 15 percentage points lower than white students,” the Diversity Dialogue’s webpage reported.

“A dialogue is a healthy way for us to try to understand the problems that fellow students with different backgrounds face, and, in turn, a way for us to share our perception,” Horvath said.

The series is taking place in the Memorial Union, with two sessions occurring per month in February, March and April.

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