Out of the Mouths of Babes...

So, we've been doing a lot of things post-racist event on campus. So far, the most useful has been a series of events that have unfolded as conversations among students. The faculty have tended to start these out, raising points and asking questions, but the majority of the discussion has been between them. And it's been fascinating to hear what they have to say to each other and about how the university does work and how it should.

Culled from those moments and from student responses to the various events. Here, briefly, are the things they've suggested would greatly improve the campus environment and their interactions with faculty on race:
  • "Don't lecture us. Have a conversation with us."
  • "Look me in the eye when you talk to me. No matter what, don't flinch from us when you're talking, especially when it's about something like race."
  • "Don't start with a stereotypical assumption about us when you want to talk about how problematic they are."
  • "Don't make me the example of anything. I don't speak for my race or my gender or the place I come from."
  • "Find ways to help us meet other students. If you really believe interacting with other cultures matters, make it a priority and don't be heavy handed."
  • "We don't expect you to be perfect so don't try to be. Let us know you're making an effort and let us know when you don't know the answer."
  • "Realize that diversity is relative. We don't come from where you come from. What seems like too little to you can seem like a lot to us."
I've got my own thoughts on these, but I thought I'd put them out there more or less in the form the students gave them to me because I think they provide some good food for thought. What was interesting to me was how pragmatic some of them were able to be about this. I spent 20 minutes talking with a student a few nights ago who tried - successfully - to impress on me how easy it would be to mix up the class just a little bit so that people had to step outside of their comfort zones.


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