Diverse? Absolutely. Our campus is certainly proud to claim such a title. Inclusivity? That’s another concept worth questioning altogether. These questions, along with a number of others, are what were discussed most recently at the Office of Intercultural Engagement’s CommUnity Dialogue series.
This time, the event took place at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 6 in the EUC and focused on the topic “Why do all the __ students sit together in the Caf?”
At 5:30 p.m., participants in the event began to make their way to their seats and the organizers ambitiously settled into their prepared roles. A single participant signed into the meeting, grabbed a slice of pizza and took a seat on one of the couches. The abundance of free pizza stacked behind her was both ironic and gratifying at this community discussion which was open to the public.
In total, there were five people, three of whom orchestrated the event. They expected more people, but they took advantage of the intimate setting. Twitch and Terrell, two of the facilitators, gave a rather casual introduction and prompted a similarly styled conversation that followed suit.
Twitch, who asked the opening question, wondered aloud, “What is it like in our cafeteria?” To that, the general consensus of the small group could be summed into one word, divided.
As if on cue, just as the conversation took an interesting delve into the complexities of the separated culture of the Caf, more people began to trickle into the meeting, taking advantage of the free pizza.
The provocative resolve to Twitch’s simple question invited thoughts from both students and faculty members that ended up moving beyond the walls of the Caf. The group went from discussing how the sectioned off Caf can interfere with student relations when it comes to the lack of inclusivity across campus.
One UNCG faculty member who was in attendance mentioned that despite being a diverse campus, UNCG lacks the ability to call itself a melting pot. He stated that UNCG still has “untapped opportunity,” and questioned why collectively, UNCG students are not engaging with one another while there is opportunity readily available.
Members thought of the Caf merely as a means to provide a micro-view of how diverse the UNCG campus is while underlining the fact that the campus lacks intercultural competence.
From here, the dialogue quickly moved from wondering why students don’t engage with one another to how UNCG students can engage with one another, regardless of their differences. One UNCG student mentioned that it was “up to us to be the students to cross those [divisive] lines.”
For instance, Terrell, a senior sociology major and also a facilitator of the event, decided to get involved for this very reason. In collaborating with the Office of Intercultural Engagement’s CommUnity Dialogue series, he is able to not only “gain perspective, but help broaden other perspectives as well” – a commitment that’s both necessary and rewarding.
For more information on where and when CommUnity Dialogues occur, go to https://intercultural.uncg.edu/. The next meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 13 in the EUC room 062. The topic “Being Enough” will be explored. Don’t forget to grab a slice of pizza.