On Nov 10, the Samford Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives hosted Face to Face with Race, a virtual roundtable discussion, to provide a space for students to discuss race culture and bias.
Director of Diversity Education and Development Jenée Spencer said that the goal for the roundtable discussion was to create a safe and welcoming space for students to come together to talk about diversity.
“The Office (of Diversity) strives to provide a plethora of opportunities for members of the Samford community to have these discussions with civility and grace. These are necessary conversations for growth and understanding, as well as, introspection and personal growth,” Spencer said.
The attendees of the Zoom call were divided into multiple breakout rooms to facilitate more intimate discussions. Each breakout session featured a student leader that guided the group discussion through a series of questions designed to stimulate discussion and provoke thought.
Spencer explained that the goal of these smaller groups was to build students’ cultural confidence in tandem with their cultural competency skills.
“Smaller discussion groups allow for each of us to be heard and can better facilitate connection, something that has been especially challenging in the midst of pandemic restrictions,” Spencer said.
Throughout the event, Spencer shared that she was able to observe healthy discourse and received abundantly positive feedback from students.
“I hope students realized that they have the ability to engage in productive conversation about our community,” Spencer said. “I hope they felt empowered to continue the conversation in their friend groups and to lean into discussions that share diverse ideas and opinions.”
Spencer said that conversations about diversity are crucial because we cannot close the gaps in understanding in our community unless we first address them.
“What we often fail to realize is that skillful community building takes practice,” Spencer said. “By providing a safe and brave space for students to discuss topics of diversity, we can work toward building and sustaining common ground and understanding that will allow our community to move beyond the notions of diversity and inclusion toward a sense of genuine belonging for all members of community, not in spite of our difference, but because of the beauty our uniqueness brings to the Body of Christ.”