Posted by Jean-Ann Kubler
A second campus climate dialogue, held at 7 p.m. on March 8 in the Case Center Game Room, was more successful than the first, according to attendees. The event was student-exclusive and about 150 students were in attendance.
Led by trained facilitators from the Intergroup Relations program and peer mediators, the second dialogue focused on inclusivity on the campus.
"The event was more structured than the first, with exercises and activities used to draw out and hear every voice in the crowd that wanted to speak," said Alexandra Stark, SGA president. Stark planned the event with SGA Vice President for Diversity Affairs Sulin Ngo.
The event began with a moment of silence for Alexander Grant, the Boston College student who died in Saratoga Spring while visiting friends at the college.
Signs with the numbers 0, 5 and 10 were placed across the room and students were then asked to line up based on how comfortable they felt on campus, with 0 meaning not comfortable at all and 10 meaning very comfortable.
"At first students were mostly lined up near numbers 5 and 10, but as soon as a few students moved toward 0, a lot of other students moved too," said Kaitlin Guerin '14, a student who attended the dialogue.
"The visual of the spectrum was very powerful in displaying just how many students don't feel comfortable on our campus," Stark said.
Students then separated into smaller groups to discuss personal feelings and experiences with inclusivity.
Attendees described the discussions as productive and informative.
"I feel included at Skidmore," said Cesar Ibanez '14, "But it was interesting to see that members of the majority here sometimes feel excluded, as well as minorities."
"It wasn't just about race. Socio-economic class came up a lot. People found that inclusivity was really challenged by class issues," Eliza Straim '14 said.
Guerin said she felt the small group discussions were especially productive for students who are part of the white majority, and was encouraged by other student's stories of feeling out of place as a student of color.
"It's good to know other people feel like you do," she said.
Stark agreed that the dialogue was productive. "When such a crowd shows up to dialogue about diversity, bias, privilege, and inclusivity - to share their personal stories with strangers and to listen to the emotionally harrowing experiences of their peers - I believe is gratifying for everyone there."
The event was schedule to end at 8:30 p.m., but conversations continued until around 9 p.m. because of student interest.