Approximately 240 students, administrators and faculty members participated in small-group discussions about diversity and freedom of expression on April 3.
These conversations were a recommendation made by the group convened in the aftermath of this semester’s Good Samaritan controversy. (This semester, Playwright-in-Residence and Professor of Drama Wendy MacLeod released, then promptly canceled, her play The Good Samaritan in light of overwhelming criticism that the play’s representation of a Guatemalan character was racist.)
President Sean Decatur convened the Community Planning Group, a group of students and faculty members tasked with creating an action plan after the polarizing event. The Community Planning Group recommended that the College facilitate conversations between people on campus who typically do not interact with each other.
“Earlier in March, academic department and program heads were asked to nominate pairs of faculty and two students to participate in the conversations,” Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Ted Mason said. “The same was done in staff offices.”
The Planning Group also sent out a Google form for individual students, staff and faculty to indicate interest in participating.
“Once the names were compiled, a subcommittee of the Community Planning Committee got together to form the conversations groups of no more than 15 members,” Mason said.
“The general goal was to form roughly seminar-sized groups of students, staff and faculty in which each single member would know a few of the participants, but likely not all of the participants.”
Each group appointed a leader and scribe. The scribe took notes on the conversation, which they sent to the Community Planning Group.
The Group will distribute a document listing the main takeaways from the conversations within the next few weeks, Mason said.
Participants were asked not to disclose details about the conversations.