Ames sponsors DIALOGUES to promote diversity

Tomy Hillers

The Ames community has come together to cut racism off at its roots. DIALOGUES, a new city program, allows minorities and people of various ethnicities to discuss experiences in small group settings, said Jan Beran, coordinator of DIALOGUES. The first meeting for the year is open to the entire community and will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Roosevelt Elementary School. “This program promotes race and community campus relations,” Beran said. She said an ISU honors seminar has also been recently added to help assist racial knowledge through a discussion format. “The program is only for Honors Students,” she said. “If there is a demand for it there may be a program offered for the rest of the students.” The community meetings are open to the public, and any interested students are welcome at the meetings, she said.Beran said the purpose of the group is to share experiences, develop understanding and make residents and students more conscious of racism. As the community becomes more aware of the diversity in Ames, the city will become more inclusive, she said.Citizens participating in the new group are joining residents of almost 500 other cities who are coming together to talk and to listen, Beran said. In the first round of DIALOGUES last fall, more than 75 residents attended, she said. The need for a program like DIALOGUES was recently made evident in the conflict between prom night at Ames High School and the Jewish Passover, said Mike Wittmer, guidance counselor at Ames High School.The upcoming high school prom was inadvertently scheduled on the first day of the Jewish Passover, Wittmer said, but has now been switched to May 5. “This has been a highly debated and controversial subject here at Ames High,” he said. “The students have been given a chance to vote on the issue and decided to change the date to a later time.” If there had been more communication between the planning committee members and the community this entire situation could have been averted, he said.