By Bronte Payne and Asia Morales
Racial tensions are running high throughout the country today and it has been a long time coming. Race and ethnicity appear to be topics on the minds of many as we read headline after headline about police brutality in communities of color, racially-themed parties on college campuses, and heated debates on immigration reform. Despite the widespread (and extremely inaccurate) belief that we are living in a post-racial, colorblind America, the discussion on race and ethnicity in our country has been reignited.
This discussion has since reached our college on the hill. As seniors, we have seen, heard, and personally discussed what we believe to be increasing racial tensions on campus. It is a fact that our college constitutes a space in society where we can have a variety of positive experiences that facilitate growth. It is also a fact that students of color on this campus have intense, frustrating, and in some cases painful experiences having to do with race and ethnicity. There has been a severe lack of space on campus for all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, to talk with each other about these experiences outside of an academic context. As a result, these important conversations are happening all around campus behind closed doors.
Our closed-door conversations turned into this independent study.
With the encouragement and support of the brilliant Dr. Shanna Salinas, we have been working to create a space where we as a community can come together for what we believe to be a conversation long overdue. The forum, entitled “Konsciousness,” will be a structured discussion open to all students, faculty and staff. The format of this space will be what is commonly known as a “fishbowl” on a larger scale. Student voices will form the center, while faculty and staff will form a silent audience. We believe this format will emphasize that this is a space for students to share with one another openly and to ask questions, not only of each other but of this institution. However, faculty and staff are also important members of this community. As such, we invite them to listen and to pose their own questions. We feel strongly that this will serve as an opportunity for faculty and staff, new and long-standing members, to hear what students are talking about and what students are experiencing on this campus outside of the classroom and the office.
We hope that in this way, your closed-door conversations can become community conversations.
Based on a focus group held during 6th week, which included students, faculty, and staff, we have developed a list of topics deemed important by students on campus. Currently these include conversations on who has the capacity to be racist and diversity issues within the classroom across all departments. However, we strongly encourage students, faculty, and staff to contact us with any important topics they would like to be discussed in this space.
“Konsciousness” will be held Wednesday of 9th week (March 4) in Hicks Banquet Hall at 7:00 p.m. For any questions, concerns, or topic suggestions, please contact Asia Morales (k11am04) or Bronte Payne (k11bp01).
We hope to see you all there.
Bronte Payne and Asia Morales are K seniors.