Following a student-led rally on Friday in support of the students who have protested racism at college campuses including the University of Missouri and Yale University, administrators, faculty and students gathered to talk about the topic on Wednesday afternoon.
United Black Students (UBS) hosted the discussion at the Shalala Student Center to give students and faculty of the University of Miami a forum in which they could voice their opinions on the issues of race and diversity on college campuses. The debate-style discussion was led by Krista Anderson, recording secretary for UBS, who prefaced the event with a warning that all arguments should be made with respect.
“There will be a lot of disagreement because these are very hot topics,” she said.
Anderson posed questions to the crowd of about 200 to facilitate the discussion. The first question regarded the distinction between verbal harassment and freedom of expression.
“When [freedom of expression] is harmful to other people, that’s when the right ends,” freshman Meredith Morris said.
As the discussion went on, more students pitched in. Sophomore Demba Kah asserted that students bear the burden of promoting positive social change by voicing their opinions even if they are not with the majority.
“Disagreement stimulates discourse, and discourse in turn stimulates change,” she said.
Marvin Dawkins, professor of sociology, brought up the point that dealing with discrimination that isn’t overt poses a real challenge.
“Most of what is objectionable is not going to be explicit, it’s going to be implicit … [How can we be] able to recognize implicit bias, and how do we deal with that? That becomes a more difficult issue and it happens every day.”
After a successful talk with plenty of intellectual exchange, Anderson noted the ultimate objective of the forum.
“Hopefully an outcome will be some more understanding and insight on what diversity and inclusiveness is,” she said. “That’s what we’re all about.”