Engendered by recent discourse and articles regarding race at the University of Richmond, student leaders, administrators and students convened in the forum on March 25, 2010, for a civil dialogue on community inclusiveness and racism.
"This discussion is not about solving racism in an hour," said Mike Murray, former president of the Richmond College Student Government Association. "It's about making the Richmond community aware that we are willing to listen to everyone's perspectives and experiences regarding this issue."
Although students are part of the Richmond community, they are also lifelong members of a larger society, Murray said. The issues faced in this small community will continue to be relevant concerns after graduation.
The central emphasis of the gathering was to discuss how to build and maintain an inclusive community. Students were encouraged to share their experiences, perspectives and opinions on racism.
By sharing personal occurrences, students are enabled to use each other as resources to become aware of different circumstances and perspectives on racism, Murray said. Respectful expression of varying backgrounds is a powerful and constructive means of challenging students' thoughts on this issue, Murray said.
Glyn Hughes, the director of Common Ground, worked with the present student leaders to facilitate the discourse. The first part of the dialogue was an open discussion on the topic of racism. The conversation then shifted to how students in the Richmond community should discuss difficult issues, such as racism, with mutual respect and civility.
The conversation then opened to the forum, where approximately 40 students and administrators were encouraged to share their opinions and learn from one another.
Contact staff writer Fred Shaia at firstname.lastname@example.org
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