Institution Spotlight: Dialogue Day at DePauw University

October 2, 2018

DePauw Dialogue is an annual event in its 5th year at DePauw University at Greencastle, IN. On this day, classes are cancelled so that faculty, staff and students can consider their position in the campus community.  A keynote speaker and a variety of sessions present concepts such as diversity, inequality, privilege, ability, and identity. 

This year’s keynote was political commentator, author, and Wake Forest professor Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry. Her talk, “What Is Just?” emphasized the need for vulnerability.  She asked the audience to consider the question “What truths are missing?” when they think about people’s lives experiences.

Harris-Perry expressed the importance of utilizing diverse ideologies, especially within college administrations. “Our brain doesn’t need a safe space…we need integrity in our curriculum.” She told students to learn about a variety of different viewpoints. She said she knew this was challenging and said that most speakers would recommend self-care. Instead, Harris-Perry encouraged the audience to do “squad-care,” sharing the example of double dutch jump rope where everyone learns and has fun together.

As soon as the keynote finished, DePauw students, faculty and staff moved on to the first block of sessions, entitled “Skill Building.” Participants could choose from 23 different topics including Accessibility is Everyone’s Job, Courageous Conversations, and Religious Allyship to name a few. The university then provided all participants with a free lunch before the afternoon sessions. For the afternoon, they could choose a different session for more “Skill Building” which included sessions such as Only Woman in the Room, What They Don’t Tell You and The Dream at DePauw, etc. The end of the day culminates with “Community Building” where students, faculty and staff break off into their own sessions to reflect on what they learned. A powerful ending to a day full of courage and learning about each other’s truths.

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