CU’s diversity-minded Dialogue and Healing Series kicks off in Williams Village

CU Boulder administrators and faculty members held the kickoff session for the new Dialogue and Healing Series, a cluster of conversations about diversity at CU. The series will include several more events this semester held in buildings throughout campus.

The first session, which took place Monday evening in Williams Village’s multipurpose room, focused on social justice, inclusion and the importance of forgiveness and healing on an individual level as part of creating a more inclusive campus.

According to Dean of Students Akirah Bradley, the goal behind the sessions is “to have conversation and dialogue across what many would think are difficult topics.”

While the incentive to start the program stemmed largely from the results of the most recent campus climate survey that were released January 2016, Bradley added that the dialogues also serve as a response to recent events on campus, including demonstrations.

“People are trying to have their voice heard,” Bradley said of the current campus climate.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano emphasized the importance of continued discourse surrounding efforts at building a more inclusive campus community.

“It must be part of our daily conversation,” DiStefano said.

Keynote speaker Jonathan Poullard followed DiStefano’s address with a series of activities which invited audience participation. He guided attendees to share with others at their tables their of experiences of feeling like an “other” and times which they experienced microaggressions.

Poullard encouraged everyone to take one of the small rocks at the center of each table and hold it for the length of the presentation. He later revealed the rocks served as a metaphor for the difficulty of holding onto a lack of forgiveness. Rather than holding grudges, he prompted the audience to strive for achieving a level of understanding with the wrongdoings committed against them out of ignorance or discrimination.

The themes that will be covered in future sessions this semester include racial justice, gender justice, politics and trauma. The next session will be held this Friday, Feb. 17. Three to four sessions are planned for each month for the remainder of the semester.

Contact CU Independent News Writer Heidi Harris at heidi.harris@colorado.edu.

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