February 2, 2016
By Natalie Rodriguez
Students will soon be able to talk about their most pressing concerns regarding race, ethnicity and sexuality as part of a new diversity initiative that starts next week.
These open conversation sessions-called Deep Talks- will run throughout the semester and will let students talk about issues at Dominican and beyond, according to Alora Schoenhofen, residence life coordinator and advisor of diversity advocates,
“It’s going to be a safe space for students. We’re going to establish that and we’re going to open it up with that topic and allow students to talk about it however they need to…to talk about how we can solve the issue or how we can own it at home and take care of it,” said Schoenhofen.
The talks will be a direct response to the “Silent No More” protest led by African- American students last semester about diversity, racial stereotyping and micro-aggressions at Dominican. They will also be in response to community needs diversity advocates have evaluated. The first Deep Talk will concern racial issues.
“The main thing we want from this is to create a support system for students whether they’ve directly experienced issues surrounding it or they want to learn more they just want to feel part of that community and learn what’s going on,” said Schoenhofen.
According to diversity advocate, Rachael Stewart, anyone is welcomed to these talks with the promise of confidentiality.
“It’s a no-hate zone, it’s a safe zone. What happens in that room, what’s discussed in that room, does not get spread somewhere else,” said Stewart.
The purpose of these talks is to keep an open dialogue within the Dominican community to confront problems affecting its members. Little change can occur if conversation is shut down. According to Schoenhofen, it’s important to face diversity issues even when feelings of uneasiness emerge.
“We want to create a space that’s comfortable for students but at the same time we want them to be uncomfortable in hearing things because if you’re uncomfortable that sparks growth,” She said.
Deep Talks are planned to be held every three weeks for the remainder of the semester. The first one will occur at 8:00pm on Thursday, Feb., 4 in the Coughlin Camper.