Our View: The point of dialogue

We often tell students they need to be more involved on campus or in the city. We tell you to read the news, to become engaged with your community. We’ve written about issues such as Proposition 8 and what we think its consequences will be.

But we also want to hear what you think.

A former editor got the idea to start a dialogue with students and university officials on race and similar issues. The Daily Kent Stater hosted several “Campus Conversations” co-sponsored with Residence Services, with professors as moderators during spring semester.

This semester, we hosted a conversation on race and today another one will be held at 7 p.m. in Room 204 of the Student Center, this time focusing on LGBT issues. The event is co-sponsored by PRIDE!Kent. We encourage you to show up and share your thoughts.

This hasn’t been just our idea.

Other campus groups are doing similar things. Yesterday, Save the World, Harambee and Black United Students held “Skin Speak: Race Relations, Our Campus, Our World.” The idea was to promote dialogue about how our attitudes toward race may be changing.

You might wonder what the point of hosting a dialogue is. We think it’s better for people to talk about their experiences or about what bothers them than to keep silent. Maybe you have questions or concerns about incidents or university policies. Maybe you’d just like to learn about what others experience.

We’d like to think we can try to do our part to promote free expression, and this includes the expression of viewpoints we may find distasteful. If we don’t hear all sides of an issue, then how can we judge it critically?

We think there’s a problem when people are afraid to speak. Maybe they are afraid of saying the wrong thing or offending someone. Sometimes people can’t help being offended. But, is merely being offended really so terrible? There certainly are worse things in this world.

These types of discussions shouldn’t only happen in a classroom. Maybe, if people talk about issues we can look at what problems we see even among our friends and on our campus and perhaps think about how we can solve them, even among just a few people.

The only way for us to make any progress on this campus or in the world is if we talk about our concerns. We have some reason to be optimistic. We complain that people aren’t involved enough or that they don’t talk. But then we find examples of students who are actively involved in trying to change things. And that’s a reason to celebrate.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.