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Discourse and dialogue done well

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The Associated Students of the University of La Verne held a Town Hall meeting in Morgan Auditorium recently where administrators from across the University were on hand to respond to students questions and concerns. Much of the discussion centered on diversity and inclusivity, which gave the students a chance to practice effective communication through different opinions and perspectives after one student made a comment that left the audience confused. 

This situation offered an example for how to correct an issue, and improve the discussion with communication and education, instead of with anger and belligerent bickering. 

Arman Agahi, junior history and political science major, made a comment pertaining to the hostile way he felt students were addressing the administrators. 

“You guys are coming at them very aggressively,” Agahi said. “Change is going to happen over time. If you were in the South, this conversation couldn’t be happening.” 

This comment led to audience discourse. Sometime after, ASULV president Jackie Ku ended the meeting. Although, for almost an hour after the meeting, about 15 different students, including Agahi, stayed behind to discuss the comment further. 

From this discussion, Agahi further explained that his original thought was mis-conveyed. Through that, graduate student for social justice in higher education Jasmine Marchbanks-Owens, who was present during the both discussions, let him know that comments such as those only contribute to the loss of the message that minority students are trying to communicate to administrators. 

Marchbanks-Owens did not place blame on Agahi for his lack of knowledge on how to address the issue, but instead the University for their failing system on how to properly discuss issues of diversity and inclusivity. 

Although the comment brought on intense emotional reactions, there were still students who took the initiative to stay behind and not only explain why he should not have made such a comment, but also took the time to learn why it is that he said it in the first place. 

Interactions such as these prove to show that just because someone may be ignorant to a topic does not mean they cannot learn and resolve their ignorance through educational discussion. 

Instead of using our heightened emotions to argue back and forth with no endpoint in sight, we instead must use that emotion to try to educate and communicate with individuals as to why their comments may be unnecessary, hurtful or ignorant. 

There will be no progress in these issues if all we see is anger when the topic comes up. Patience and educational discussion are the key to eliminating ignorance, thus eliminating the heated bickering as response.

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