Bridgewater State University observed its third annual Day of Dialogue event, this year themed, "Building Skills for Diversity and Social Justice.” An audience of more than 300 students, faculty and staff was in attendance for the day-long program held in the ballroom of the Campus Center.
“It is wonderful to see so many people here from every part of the campus,” said President Dana Mohler-Faria. “What makes us different at Bridgewater from many other institutions is that when we talk about diversity and social justice, it’s about action – it’s about making something happen. We understand that what it is that really matters for this university, for each of you and, indeed, for every person in the world. It’s about respect, about love, it’s about dignity and it’s about being appreciated for who we are.”
The president said BSU’s “Day of Dialogue” should be “a day to prepare for action” in order to help people “around us, on the campus, and in the local communities that we serve, or in far-away places, for all of these are the people for whom we are responsible.”
Dr. Sabrina Gentlewarrior, director of institutional diversity, who served as host and moderator for the program, said a major aim of the event was “help us continue building a community focused on diversity and social justice.”
The keynote speaker for the day was Dr. Bobbi Harro, a faculty member in the School of Human Services at Springfield College and a national authority on social justice issues. Her topic was, “How do we really create change?”
In her remarks, Dr. Harro congratulated BSU for the work that's already underway. "The whole idea is to begin building skills for diversity and social justice but from what I know, you’re already in the middle of that. It’s not new information for you.”
Dr. Harro, author of a much-acclaimed essay on the subject, "The Cycle of Socialization," added that, “we are all systematically trained in the various forms of oppression that we encounter daily.” Target groups, she explained, include women; racially-oppressed groups; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people; Jews; elders; youth and people living in poverty. She took the audience through a series of verbal exercises, eliciting responses from the audience to questions she posed on various topics related to creating change in order to combat injustice.
Following Dr. Harro’s address, a series of breakout sessions were scheduled, exploring topics such as “Employees Working for Diversity and Social Justice,” “Students Building Community and Conditions for Diversity and Social Justice,” and “Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice.”
In addition to other special events, the morning session featured a performance by vocalist Candida Rose, who was introduced by Diane Bell, director of BSU’s Community Service Center. (Story and photos by David K. Wilson, ’71, Office of University Advancement)