Discussions battle bigotry in Residence Halls

After dealing with more than one “bias-related incident” this semester, the Residence Halls have started controversial diversity discussions to make students aware of the problem.

In October, the Residence Hall Association sent two e-mails to students detailing two incidents that occurred in the Residence Halls.

The first e-mail informed residents that a student in the housing complex was “the victim of a racially bias-motivated incident involving the defacement of personal property with abhorrent language.”

In response to this incident, RHA initiated a series of diversity dialogues for students in the Gateway Heights and Chapel Glen Residence Halls.

“Anytime that you have students from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, it’s part of the experience to learn from others,” said Barb Remsburg, associate director of Housing and Residential Education.

The Office of Residential Living staff encouraged resident assistants to stress to their students that the discussions were important to attend.

Another incident involved PRIDE Week signs that were posted around the Heritage Commons area Oct. 10 and were stolen before the end of the next day.

“Behavior such as this that in any way encourages hatred of any group or makes the Heritage Commons an unsafe or unwelcoming living space for any student from any background will NOT be tolerated,” the second e-mail read.

“In general, it’s been a good, eye-opening experience,” said I Fen Chiang, the associate director of the ASUU Diversity Board.

Chiang said that in the discussions a leader lays down ground rules so that everyone feels safe. For example, nothing said in the discussion leaves the room.

Sometimes the dialogue is an open-forum format and sometimes the participants read an article about a diversity issue and then discuss it.

“I didn’t find much of it useful,” said Joe Knight, an undeclared freshman who participated in a diversity discussion. “It didn’t seem really practical.”

Knight said that some of the men on his floor got in yelling matches with the discussion leader. Several were offended by the speaker and walked out of the meeting early.

“It was a good idea, and I enjoyed hearing everyone’s point of view,” Derek Denney, a freshman in biology, said.

But Denney said he felt like the event was unnecessary because, in his opinion, his floor is already respectful of others and doesn’t need the dialogue.

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