Luther College Chips

Power and Privilege

From+left%3A+College+Pastor+Mike+Blair%2C+President+Paula+Carlson%2C+Assistant+Professor+of+Political+Science+Pedro+Dos+Santos%2C+Betsy+Fawcett+%28%E2%80%9817%29%2C+Cierra+Buckner+%28%E2%80%9818%29%2C+and+Ashleigh+Bunkofske+%28%E2%80%9818%29.+Panel+members+not+pictured%3A+Interim+Director+of++the+Diversity+Center+Wintlett+Taylor-Browne%2C+Professor+of+Art+Richard+Merrit+and+Associate+Professor+of+Political+Science+Carly+Foster.
From left: College Pastor Mike Blair, President Paula Carlson, Assistant Professor of Political Science Pedro Dos Santos, Betsy Fawcett (‘17), Cierra Buckner (‘18), and Ashleigh Bunkofske (‘18). Panel members not pictured: Interim Director of  the Diversity Center Wintlett Taylor-Browne, Professor of Art Richard Merrit and Associate Professor of Political Science Carly Foster.

From left: College Pastor Mike Blair, President Paula Carlson, Assistant Professor of Political Science Pedro Dos Santos, Betsy Fawcett (‘17), Cierra Buckner (‘18), and Ashleigh Bunkofske (‘18). Panel members not pictured: Interim Director of the Diversity Center Wintlett Taylor-Browne, Professor of Art Richard Merrit and Associate Professor of Political Science Carly Foster.

Ana López (‘19) | Chips

Ana López (‘19) | Chips

From left: College Pastor Mike Blair, President Paula Carlson, Assistant Professor of Political Science Pedro Dos Santos, Betsy Fawcett (‘17), Cierra Buckner (‘18), and Ashleigh Bunkofske (‘18). Panel members not pictured: Interim Director of the Diversity Center Wintlett Taylor-Browne, Professor of Art Richard Merrit and Associate Professor of Political Science Carly Foster.

Ana López, Staff Writer

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The Black Student Union, Diversity Council, and the President’s Office sponsored a campus dialogue titled “On Power and Privilege” on March 15. The dialogue covered topics of institutional response to issues of inclusion and diversity on campus. Approximately 70 students and faculty attended the event.

The members of the panel included student leaders from various organizations, faculty members, and President Paula Carlson. The discussion was led by Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Diversity Council Carly Foster.

To begin, each of the panelists introduced themselves and gave a short statement about their interest in matters of inclusion and diversity as well as personal experiences and reflections on the topic. Following the introductions, Foster opened the panel for comments and questions from the audience.

A common theme in the discussion was finding institutional ways to create a more inclusive campus. Audience members mentioned ideas that involved training for professors that would help them address cases of discrimination in the classroom. Other proposals focused on students. The participants at the panel discussed including diversity awareness as part of the Paideia program, as well as holding different workshops related to acceptance and diversity.

President Paula Carlson mentioned during the panel that she and the members of the Strategic Planning Committee will seriously consider the content of the dialogue, as well as being communicated to the new Dean for Equity and Inclusion.

Ana López (’19) | Chips
Professor of Religion Guy Nave speaks from the audience.

In an interview, President of PRIDE and panelist Ashleigh Bunkofske (‘18) explained the significance  of the topic.

“This is really important,” Bunkofske said. “Talking about this intelligently and thoughtfully is extremely important and extremely necessary, because I am talking about issues that literally get people killed.”

Bunkofske also expressed the importance of addressing diversity at Luther by holding this type of dialogue.

“This is why the system is so important, these are issues that can result in excessive police violence,” Bunkofske said. “I am someone who is so white that when I see police with assault rifles I feel reassured. But there are still people who are dying because society won’t confront this. So if we have the opportunity to confront it in a small segment of society at least we are doing something.”

One issue raised on several occasions by audience members was the difficulty of reaching out to members of the community that are not already involved in these type of discussions.

President of the Student Senate and member of the panel Betsy Fawcett (‘17) responded to this concern.

“I think people are getting sick of having conversations about it,” Fawcett said. “But I believe in the power of conversation and dialogue to change people.”

Attendee Abigail Kraus (‘19) said she was impressed by the quality of the discussion.

“I thought it was really good,” Kraus said. “I am glad that it wasn’t dominated by only one person. A lot of people got the chance to speak.”

Kraus also mentioned her expectations of the outcomes of the panel.

“I thought really good things were addressed, specially about talking about concrete stuff that Luther College can do instead of talking about theoretical things, which usually is what happens at these sort of panels,” Kraus said. “I am hoping that this meeting will lead to something concrete actually being done, not just talked about. I am glad ideas were brought up but I hope people go through with it.”

Similarly, Fawcett expressed her vision after the panel.

“I think conversations are a good place to start,” Fawcett said. “I really, truly believe that we got good stuff coming that will change this. This is not just talk anymore, people actually want this to change. I have a really good feeling that things will start changing.”

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