Letter: Conflict is integral to dialogue

Posted by Kali Block-Steele


Dear Editor,

Amazing to see how much you value conflict because, speaking as an IGR Dialogue facilitator, conflict is an integral part of dialogue. Dialogues are not designed so that everyone sits happy-go-lucky in a circle, cries and shares their emotional experiences. They are designed so that, yes, we share our personal experiences that sometimes carry with them emotions (surprisingly we all are not privileged enough to live in emotionless ivory towers) but that we realize we don't always agree and thus dialogues should also produce conflict. From conflict emerges growth.

I am not merely just a proponent of dialogue. Not everything can be learned or solved through it, but there is a huge value from actively and openly sharing with others. This value has been proven repeatedly; IGR has years of solid "real rigorous" data that proves dialogue has a huge benefit. I do not believe that dialogue should overrun campus and I don't think that it will take over our "liberal arts education" as you seem so worried about. It should, though, be able to have its place within our liberal arts education.

As you so virulently appose "dialogue culture" you seem to be excitedly proposing a "debate culture" instead. If we truly want to make this campus a better place, one that provides a relevant and impactful education and that also constructs a positive, open, welcoming community then we need a few different methods to do so. 

As things stand this "tolerance and pluralism" that you say is slipping away has never been here. Yes, there has been much tolerance, for a small sector of the population.  You attempt to make the claim that privilege, oppression, a white male ruling class, etc. hold no reality. Please, remove your self-imposed blinders for a second and take a look at, let's say, our presidents. What is something that ties all our presidents, but one, together? They have been, from the start, white, male and predominantly wealthy. This trend has also been reflected in the branches of our government and throughout all power wielding institutions, including colleges and universities. Because, as things have been going, those in power act in order to maintain their power, they must then create ideas, laws, and ambassadors like you to continue the cycle.

A little more awareness is what I am asking of you. I ask you to dig deeper into the ideas that you have been taught, that we have all been taught. I ask you to critically analyze these structures we are immersed in, and whether or not these ideas you claim are essential to a liberal arts education were constructed with the entire population in mind or just a segment of it.

I value your opinion, but I need to you to value mine as well. Your arguments are drastic and your mind does not seem open. Time continues for a reason, it permits us to look back and allow our present to evolve our past ideas into new, more currently relevant places. Change is not a bad thing as long as it is done with all parts considered. 

Kali Block-Steele

Class of 2013

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