Students, faculty come together for the fourth Campus Conversation

One question groups were asked about was how they felt they should take action when it comes to improving Iowa State.

Whitney Mason.

Participants ranging from students to faculty members gathered in Beardshear Hall Friday in hopes of finding support, listening to and engaging in conversations surrounding the events that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia and on Iowa State’s campus.

Nicci Port, project director of LGBTQ+ initiatives for the Office for Diversity and Inclusion opened the public meeting explaining that the participants were to separate into small groups and that were selected individuals that would facilitate each small group.

Port saw this event as an “allowance for time and space to process reactions” to recent events, but also viewed this as an opportunity to gather positive feedback from participants to find initiatives to impact the Iowa State community positively.

“I wanted to gain an understanding of the community’s readiness to move from processing and discussion to action,” Port said in regards to what she was hoping to get out of the conversations. “I wanted to take advantage of the collective creativity in the room to compile ideas and thoughts on how to make positive change.”

Participants in small groups spoke on issues affecting them on campus. Students of color discussed how they and their peers struggle with finding a place of belonging within the Iowa State community.

Others stressed on their fear that events in Charlottesville could incite similar havoc on campus.

“I fear for it. I fear for the outcome [of possible events],” said Ben Dalle, a senior in nutritional science.

Dalle hopes that university officials will have initiatives put in place for precautions if a violent racial attack should ever happen on campus grounds.

Although Senior Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Martino Harmon did not state specifics, he did release a statement last week condemning racial attacks and wants to strive for a safer campus for all students.

Of what has occurred nationally and locally, Dalle said that all of it is a shocking reminder of prejudice that is present on campus.

“It’s a reminder that people hold these beliefs and will act on them,” Dalle said.

By engaging in conversations with people from oppressed groups, it helped Dalle realize that he has responsibilities to speak out and be aware of racism around him.

“I have nothing holding me back,” Dalle said.

Participants received sticky notes during their small group sessions and could write down any ideas that they had.

What stood to Port was how willing participants were to collaborate with others in their plans to impact Iowa State.

“To have people indicate that they would like to work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion on initiatives in which we are involved was heartening to me,” Port said. “Through community engagement and collective work, I think we can cultivate something impactful here.”

Port can see every student, faculty and staff being leaders of change at Iowa State through their own way and on a daily basis.

“My hope is that a climate of engaging together toward an ideal takes hold with the understanding that we are all responsible for the progression toward or regression from that ideal,” Port said.

Like many of the participants, Dalle had plans in mind, but for the most part the nutritional science major hoped that the university would come up with tangible initiatives that could be put into use at the universities.

Participants like Dalle, spoke of their hopes of having follow-ups to know about their ideas on initiatives that the university may take that were mentioned or came from the conversation.

One thing Dalle said he would have liked to see was a mentioning of the event on the university’s social media platforms. He had also hoped that the results that occur from the event be posted as well.

“The conversations are worthy of it,” Dalle said.

Dalle initially thought that today’s event was going to attract a smaller crowd, but seeing the attendance excited Dalle.

“I got some inspiration on a personal level,” he said.

Port accredited the Goal 4 of the Strategic plan, which mentions the university’s goal to continue an experience at the university where everyone feels supported, welcomed, included and valued, as a starting point for moving forward.

“I say we start there,” she said.