Community Dialogue Features Open Discussions


Thursdays will now be Community Dialogue nights at The Pub, where, according to an email sent by Associate Professor of Philosophy Sybol Cook Anderson,  students, faculty, staff, and other community members will now have, “a space for free and easy discussion of campus community issues.”

The inaugural dialogue was held on April 5, when the topic of discussion, facilitated by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), was, “Is a living wage right for St. Mary’s?” Then on April 26, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Beth Rushing, along with Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray, facilitated a discussion titled, “How can the campus live more sustainably?

At the April 5 discussion, SDS hung up poster paper in The Pub; at the top were written “What are your budget priorities?” “What do you think the administration’s priorities are?” and “Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Write them down!” The discussion revolved around the figures about living wage, explanations of block grants, details about raises at the school, and attempts to brainstorm ways to support the staff without achieving a living wage.

The discussion went back and forth between SDS students and other community members, asking questions, answering them, and sharing opinions and thoughts. The April 26 talk revolved more around sustainability on campus, though the arrangement of seating was more closed, allowing for better hearing and easier discussion in the often noisy pub.

According to Anderson, starting the dialogue was “astonishingly easy.” She said she emailed Rushing and a few other administrators and then the process was done. Anderson expressed interest in having people “come together and talk about issues hanging in the air.”  The discussions are to be open-ended, according to Anderson, and will keep going until they naturally end. “Everybody takes over in a really organic way,” Anderson said. The discussions will continue next fall semester Thursdays at 5 p.m., though they will be under a new name decided by a campus-wide contest.