DEIB leads the discussion on allyship and racial justice

Colin MaiwurmStaff Writer

With midterms and the election passing by, many have found themselves very busy and overstressed, unable to relax or attend any events. With midterms and the election having now passed, the college is back to hosting new events, some of which are coming up soon. On Thursday Nov. 17 from 11:30-12:30, there will be a panel discussion regarding allyship and racial justice in the Three Crowns room. In this panel discussion, there will be three speakers: Kareem Watts who is Assistant Director of the CIE, Brianne Twaddle who is a Technology Helpline Coordinator and Purchasing/Licensing Agent for GTS, and Jennifer Vickerman who is Gift Planner and Friends of Music Program Lead in Advancement. In the beginning of this panel discussion, the speakers will share some of their personal experiences to break the ice and get the conversation rolling. Afterwards, the speakers intend to start talking about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the campus. The speakers will then bring the discussion back to allyship and racial justice to show how these stories and topics are important in order to understand racial justice and become an ally to others with different backgrounds. 

“We are going to be talking about the concept of white lives matter, black lives matter, and all lives matter and how all of those came to be. Also which ones you may wanna lean into and which ones you may wanna lean out of as an ally to people of color,” Jennifer Vickerman said. 

Once these points are described, the speakers will open up to the floor to the audience for questions or for their own stories in regards to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging as well as how that might tie into racial justice and their allyship. This event is not just for students to participate in, but for the whole Gustavus community. 

“We have tried to design it as much as we can to be welcoming to anyone on the Gustavus campus. That includes our faculty, staff, and students. We hope to have a good representation from all of those groups,” Vickerman said. 

With not just students, but also faculty and staff, there will be a lot of diversity in regards to questions and personal stories. The main goals of this event are to give people a safe environment to tell of their past experiences as well as to ask questions and learn more about others’ experiences. In addition to this, the college would like to spread awareness about racial justice and becoming an ally to those from different backgrounds. If you are unsure about whether to go to this event or if you cannot make it, there is information regarding what will be discussed at the event on the Gustavus website. Since the panel is happening around the time many eat between classes, the college encourages that you grab your food and bring it to the discussion and eat there. 

While these things might seem interesting to you, sometimes it can be hard to step out of your comfort zone and go to an event like this that will focus on some very personal and serious topics. One thing that might relieve some of that stress is that participation from the audience is preferred but not required. While others may be asking questions and describing their experiences, you are under no obligation to join in and speak up. Showing up to the event and learning something about the community as well as being an ally for racial justice is what the speakers want most from this panel discussion. 

“Come with a friend if that helps you feel more comfortable. You can participate however is comfortable for you, if that means you come and don’t say a word in the entire session, that’s OK. We are not going to call anyone out, we aren’t gonna make everyone have their voice heard in the room. If it’s something you are curious about, something you wanna learn about, we welcome everyone,” Vickerman said.

If you are unable to attend this event, there will also be more events similar to this one throughout the year. Most of these events, including this event, have not been held previously. These are all new events created by the college each year to incorporate present day knowledge. While some of these events might have been inspired by a previous event held here or at another campus, they are all changed to fit the demographic of Gustavus’ current staff, faculty, and students.