“Racism doesn’t exist anymore.” “I moved my family to a different neighbor- hood so they could go to good schools.” “What affects persons more? Socio-economic class or race?” “Don’t all lives matter?”
This is how the con- versation started last Wednesday, when stu- dents were invited to engage in “The Ques- tions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask About Race.” This event was held as one of four breakout sessions after Monday’s State of the Campus address with President Carol Quillen, hosted by the Student Government Association (SGA).
“The purpose of the breakout sessions is to re- ally go in depth with student issues,” said Ricki Hollins `16, Director of Multicultural Affairs for SGA.
This session was held as an open and hon- est conversation about race and how the student body talks about race on campus. The goal was to create a space where people felt comfortable bringing up their experiences, questions, and thoughts about race.
To accomplish this, students were split into different small groups for interpersonal con- versations about the above topics. After about 45 minutes of organic conversation, the groups came back together to tie up what they had discussed in the smaller settings. Before recon- vening, however, each attendee was given a notecard to anony- mously write questions they had for the larger group, to which profes- sors and students alike could respond at the end.
A very diverse group of students attended, and the end results were positive for SGA.
“According to Dean Shandley, this was one of the largest groups of people he’s ever seen,” Hol- lins said.
About 100 people came out to the event, but the real mark of success for Emily Rapport ‘16, Co-Director of Special Projects for SGA, was that it got people talking. “It’s not enough to just have a conversation about this,” Rapport said. “It’s a good first step.”
“It was a great starting point for future talks,” Hollins said.
What is the next step, though? For SGA, the next step lies in a future series of dialogues, known as SGA Collaborative. This is an initiative to get students talking about issues important to them. Every Thursday, during Common Hour, SGA will host a smaller talk on issues that Davidson students choose. It will be a chance to invite voices into the conversation about issues faced every day here at Davidson College. The hope for SGA is to get the whole campus involved in speaking up about what matters to the student body.