Jan. 17 – HIRAM, Ohio – The Hiram College Athletic Department, in conjunction with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, as well as the North Coast Athletic Conference, held a night of open dialog and discussion on the topics of race and diversity on Monday evening.
The event, which kicked off the College's Martin Luther King, Jr. Week, was attended by nearly 300 members of the Hiram community. Attendees included Hiram students, faculty and staff, alumni and multiple campus leaders.
The event was made possible through the NCAC's Diversity and Inclusion Grant, and Keri Alexander-Luchowski, the Executive Director of the conference, was on hand to take part in the evening's dialog.
"Every year, the NCAC has a committee that tries to pick a theme that is topical for our students," commented Luchowski. "This year, with the political season that had just passed, we felt that this topic would be something that really resonated with our campuses."
Throughout the evening, all of the attendees were able to participate in "round-table" discussions that focused on different issues currently at the forefront of today's society. The list of discussion topics included:
1) When Did You Know Your Colors? A Dialog on Social Engineering
2) The Trump Effect: Race and Politics
3) Hands up, Don't Shoot: Police and Community Relations
4) Take a Knee: Race and Patriotism
5) Discussion on ways to improve relationships/understandings on Hiram's Campus
With each question that was asked, the groups were given 15 minutes in a free-flowing discussion format to discuss their opinions and beliefs in a welcoming and open environment. Guest facilitators, which included Hiram students, coaches, members of the faculty and other special guest facilitators, helped to lead the discussions.
Director of Athletics, Ellen Dempsey, along with Dee West, the Associate Dean of Student Life as well as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion, were on hand to serve as the evening's leaders and MCs.
"This whole symposium was designed to cultivate meaningful discussions that centered around race," remarked Dempsey. "I feel that this is one of the few places where an event like this could go so well, and it is a testament to the types of students and people we have here at Hiram."
Along with the event, which was titled "Coming Together as One: A Community Dialog about Race", the 2017 MLK planning committee has also scheduled events throughout the week, including a "Wear White for Peace" day on Tuesday. Additionally, on Thursday evening, Hiram students will read passages from Dr. King's 1963 "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" as part of the "Bread and Soup" event from 5-7 p.m.
"Each year we have programming centered around MLK week which focus on some of the concepts of Dr. King," commented West on the week's festivities. "I loved kicking off the week with this event. The fact that people can sit together in one forum and openly discuss these issues is something that turned out to be really special."
Click on the video below to hear more of the comments from the program's leaders. You can also click the link below for a photo gallery from the event.