Sustained Dialogue is getting out of the classroom on Wednesday with Dialogue at the Rock.
The campus initiative, which began its first quarter of full participation Fall Quarter after a pilot program last spring, aims to promote on-going conversations about diversity and inclusion among students on campus. Currently, nine groups of about a dozen students each meet weekly to discuss these topics.
Dialogue at the Rock will bring the weekly conversations into a public venue, with 6 hours of programming at one of campus' most prominent locations.
Director of Campus Inclusion and Community Dr. Lesley-Ann Brown, who oversees Sustained Dialogue at Northwestern, said the event at the Rock brings needed visibility. She explained how the idea was born after group leaders expressed a desire to paint the Rock to promote the program, and then decided to engage with students during their 24-hour guard.
“It will be out in the open,” Brown said. “We will be out there, telling the student body, ‘we care what you think.’”
Brown said the event highlights many of the goals of the Sustain Dialogue program.
“We encourage students to interact across the lines of difference,” Brown said. “We want students to bring their whole selves to campus.”
The event will feature participation from Interfaith Initiatives, South Asian Student Alliance, Active Minds, theatre group Sit and Spin Productions, Alianza and Fight for Freedom, a group that works to raise awareness about human trafficking.
Participating groups will engage in a discussion on a topic of their choice with Sustained Dialogue members and passersby. Each of the groups fills an hourlong block during the course of the event, which runs noon-6:00 p.m.
Topics to be discussed include mental health, faith on campus and what it means to be American.
SASA Co-President Palak Patel a Weinberg junior said her group is excited to participate. During their hour-long segment, SASA will discuss the controversy surrounding 2014 Miss America winner Nina Davuluri, who is of Indian descent. Following her win, Davuluri became a target for negative attacks on Twitter, including insinuations of her ties to terrorism and questioning her “American-ness.” Patel said the larger online controversy is very relevant to Northwestern students.
“There were so many people making wild claims,” Patel said. “It’s disrespectful,” adding that the event is an opportunity to bring the issue to light on campus.
“The event brings us into partnership with a group that represents the whole Northwestern,” Patel said. “It brings the conversation to a broader community.”