With the passing of a divisive midterm election cycle and the increasing levels of political tension, an event on civil discourse could not have been more timely.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Student Government hosted a civil discourse panel at 5 p.m. Nov. 26 in the Ingman Room.
Panelists for the event included College Republicans Chair Shane Logan, College Democrats President Alex Seifert, Student Government External Affairs Chair Becca Sturges, Student Government Campus Culture Affairs Chair Andre Brown and Sociology professor Jerry Van Hoy among other professors.
Sturges, one of the panel members, took part in the organization of the event.
“This is a civil discourse town hall,” Sturges said. “The idea is to get everyone to talk about their differences and opinions respectfully and without resorting to any violence.”
The room was set up with chairs in a rectangle. Panel members and students sat side by side. Students and guests scurried to the hot cider, fresh coffee and glazed donuts to warm up before the questions began.
Alissa Rose, a third-year nursing and psychology major, said that she came to the event to learn how to communicate with her family better.
“I come from a family that has different political views than mine,” Rose said. “I know that our conversations at home…we’re not very patient with each other. We’re not very civil about it. I came here to learn to communicate better about our different beliefs.”
The moderator and director from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Jennifer Pizio asked questions, a majority of which were based on a central theme of how to peacefully disagree with one another.
Seifert said the event was successful. However, he wished for more student participation.
Logan, College Republican chair, said that he wants to continue having these panel discussions each semester and hopes that next time all the chairs are filled.
“It is upon us as young people to be that voice, where we may not find that in the national spectrum,” Logan said. “It is nice to see that here.”
UT’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion works with students, faculty and community members to create a more inclusive environment.