Round two of our civic dinner was a success. These fruitful conversations-with people that may not have known a single person in the room-still brought people together over good food to talk about personal experiences within our community. These experiences informed students’ visions for the future of “Claradise.”
In the midst of midterms, there have been several events which have occurred on campus in recent weeks, propelling students to come together and discuss campus climate. All had different opinions, but conversation still proved a worthwhile tool to foster cooperation and collective action. Although there were numerous questions raised throughout of our dinner, it was enlightening to hear different conceptions of what a campus safe space would look like, where students go now to voice their opinions, and their thoughts on what they would like to see from the university. However, a phrase that stuck out from the conversation in the discussion group was this idea of the difference between “Being called in and being called out” in a conversation. Typically speaking, it is common for someone to be hesitant to speak up in a conversation when they feel attacked. Be that intentional or not by the person that is addressing him/ her---it happens. Being able to have a discussion with someone you may not share a common opinion can still occur, but it requires participants who are respectful and receptive. Presenting an individual with a way into the conversation instead of casting them out is a helpful reminder that we all need when having a conversation ranging from sports, politics, religion, and more.
After hearing this phrase---the person who dropped this little nugget sent me a shared the mall poster that is in their room and is a helpful reminder for them whenever they feel frustrated. On the poster, the acronym ‘CLA(I)M’ provides a more in depth understanding of how to approach dialogue with people that may share a different opinion with you. The “C” indicates a person should not center themselves, and provide the space for all voices to have a seat at the table. Making room for others to speaking ensures a variety of perspectives are given thoughtful consideration. “L” involves the ability to listen, which should beyond simple comprehension. Instead, we should listen to understand other perspectives “A” signifies the ability to acknowledge and apologize for insensitive or transgressive behavior. Often, people are unaware why their beliefs may be harmful or prejudice. This step is crucial because it highlights the need to recognize our own faults and make amends for shortcomings. When making apologies, it is important to consider both the intent and impact our words have. The “I” in CLA(I)M means the ability to inquire. This echoes the point of being able to take some accountability and further understand why an individual may think or feel a certain way. Posing thoughtful, probing questions is a key piece of making conversation flow and expand. “M” represent the ability to move forward, meaning we understand what can be done differently after views are put in the open. everyone can benefit from a little self improvement. The key takeaway of our roundtable discussion is not that conversations on politics and culture should end at the dinner table. Rather, these meetings provide a springboard to better understand the world around us and our own place in it.