Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

February 4, 2016

Facilitated Conversations Get Students Talking About Race & Equity

When President Ana Mari Cauce addressed the university community last spring in her speech, “Diversity, Equity and Difference at the UW,” she called for students, faculty and staff to engage in difficult conversations about prejudice and bias as a part of a new Race & Equity Initiative.

“Let’s begin to acknowledge our shortcomings and talk about them, not about them in other people, but in ourselves and in our workplaces, in our living places and in the places we study and learn – let’s talk about how we can hold ourselves accountable, and about how we can change and take action,” she said.

eNews button Winter 2016In order to provide a safe space on campus for this to occur, President Cauce is holding quarterly events for students to engage in small roundtable discussions led by faculty, staff and graduate student facilitators at ɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House. Themes brought forth during these conversations include topics such as activism, expression, language and power.

The first facilitated conversation was held in conjunction with President Cauce’s address last April. The conversations held during this academic year have been scheduled prior to a lecture featured in the series produced by the Graduate School and the UW Alumni Association called Equity & Difference: Keep the Conversation Going.

Students who attend a facilitated conversation also have an opportunity to expand their experience by attending the lecture that evening. In October, longtime civil rights activist and musician Harry Belafonte discussed his evolution from artist to activist. In January, UW Department of Communication Associate Professor Ralina Joseph discussed the power of language, why words matter and how identity descriptions change over time.

The next facilitated conversation for students will be held April 5 and paired with a lecture by journalist and culture critic Touré. His talk will focus on microaggressions and manifestations of power and privilege on everyday life.

October 2015 and January 2016 Facilitated Conversations (click on photos to enlarge)

Photos by Emile Pitre, UW Graduate School, UW Marketing & Communication