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Jan. 20 Campus Conversation to focus on racial dynamics, inequality

The Ohio University and Athens communities are invited to OHIO’s first Campus Conversation of the spring semester, which will allow participants to ask questions, raise concerns, share their personal experiences and engage in constructive conversations on issues of racial dynamics and inequality.

“Campus Conversations: Racial Dynamics and Inequality” will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, in the Baker University Center Ballroom. The event is being organized by members of the Ohio University community through a collaboration involving many offices on the Athens Campus. It is open to the entire Athens community.

The purpose of this campus conversation is to provide a safe environment where members of the OHIO and local community have an opportunity to discuss issues of racial dynamics and inequality in our nation and here on campus and to speak freely about these topics. It is being organized in response to recent events throughout the country and in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

During the event, several tables will be set up in the ballroom. Some tables will be labeled with a specific topic to be discussed while others will be open tables that will be used to discuss topics generated by participants.

Each table will include at least one facilitator who will help guide and encourage a constructive dialogue based on provided guidelines and ground rules for these confidential conversations. (See sidebar)

This campus conversation will also feature resources and information about upcoming events and programs related to the topics of racial dynamics and inequality.

Ohio University began holding Campus Conversations in the fall of 2013 and plans to hold additional conversations in the months to come. Past Campus Conversations have focused on sexual assault, consent and bystander intervention as well as free speech, civility and difficult dialogues.

For more information about the Jan. 20 Campus Conversation, contact Megan Vogel, special assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs and director of Resource Administration, at vogelm@ohio.edu. Faculty and staff interested in serving as a facilitator at the event are also asked to contact Vogel.

Ground rules for Campus Conversations

Members of the Ohio University who have been organizing Campus Conversations on the Athens Campus have developed the following ground rules for the events:

Maintain confidentiality. Participants are asked not to identify by name individuals who share personal stories and comments during Campus Conversations.

Speak for yourself. Participants are asked to share their own stories and experiences.

Listen with respect and curiosity.

It is OK to pass and not share your own stories and experiences.

Participants are asked to not take photos at the event and to refrain from using cell phones.

Participants are asked to be aware of their personal feelings and to take a deep breath before responding to thoughts and comments that evoke feelings of defensiveness and anger.