Over the past two-and-a-half years, START’s Community Resilience, Engagement and Dialogue (CRED) fellows have researched countering violent extremism (CVE) and community resilience programs and are applying what they’ve learned to improve the University of Maryland community.
Earlier this month, the fellows – Noreen Duke, Ryan Garfinkel, Anjali Kalaria and Samuel Koralnik – led START staff and interns in a round table discussion about empathy and community resilience in preparation for a larger Dialogue Dinner April 4 for University of Maryland administrators and student leaders.
The Dialogue Dinner is the culmination of a year-long project in which the fellows assessed how the university community has been affected by and responded to hate bias incidents. Their research identified a communication gap between administration, faculty, staff and students when it comes to such issues.
Faculty and staff reported the desire to reach out and to ask how students feel about issues, but often do not know what channels to go through. Students said they felt like they didn’t know much about resources on campus or how they should respond to hate-bias incidents.
As a first step in remedying this gap, the CRED fellows proposed hosting a forum where these administrators could connect with students and engage on these issues in a setting where all types of students can participate. Their idea was well received and the Dialogue Dinner was set.
“The culmination of our experience and research really revolves around the idea that not everybody has the right answer, but having a conversation about this issue is the most important part,” Koralnik said.
During the dinner, the CRED Fellows will break participants into groups and provide them with hypothetical hate-bias scenarios set on a college campus and a timeline of events. They will facilitate small group discussions about potential courses of action and feelings, concerns and hesitancies about taking action.
The CRED team has two goals for the dialogue: to ignite constructive conversation between the administration and students; and to raise the awareness of resources available to students, faculty and staff.
The Dialogue Dinner will be held 6 p.m. April 4 in Riggs Alumni Center. University of Maryland faculty, staff and students are invited to attend but must RSVP at go.umd.edu/dialoguedinner. More information is available on the CRED Fellows website campuscredumd.com.