DuTalk: Are we the University of Missouri?

On Monday, Nov. 16, Loras hosted a DuTalk called “DuTalk: Are We the University of Missouri?” at 11 a.m. More students than expected attended the DuTalk. Even though it was a last minute scheduling, the facilitators had to bring in extra chairs. People came for various reasons ranging from having nothing else to do to knowing nothing about the Missouri situation to having many opinions to share on the matter.

During the past few weeks at the University of Missouri, many students protested because they thought they were being treated unjustly. They brought attention to prevalence of racial tensions taking place on campus. They presented a list of demands that they thought would better the Missouri campus. When the President of the University of Missouri, Tim Wolfe, ignored these concerns, protesters became livid. The football team went on strike, demanding the resignation of their president. As a result, Wolfe  resigned.

The facilitators of the DuTalk set up the room like a group discussion, everyone sat in a circle of chairs. They posed of question of ways Loras could better itself so Loras students don’t need to protest like Missouri students.

When applied to Loras, a common theme brought up was that Loras is doing a lot of good things when it comes to diversity. They have diverse groups including the Black Student Union, LISA, Allies, Better Together and many more organization which represents a population of Loras’ students. In addition, Loras’ first year class must read “Blind Spot” which addresses biases all people have. Students also claimed that classes do a great job of integrating cultural awareness in the classroom.

However, there are still areas where Loras falls short. One issue that a student mentioned was the lack in diversity of students. He stated that Loras has maybe seven black females in the first year class and most of the black males of the first year class are sports players. Another student wished people could be more comfortable talking about counter viewpoints outside of the classroom.
The discussion became heated when two students discussed their views about the reality of racism and what Loras can actually do to change racism. Faculty shortly broke up the argument and reminded the students that the purpose of the DuTalk was not about criticism or rebuttal, but to join together on bettering Loras. Another student’s insight touched numerous people. She said we all need to become more culturally aware. We must recognize our culture, our biases, and our ethnocentric tendencies. We have to admit that no one knows everything about all cultures and that we must be open to learning. In addition, when someone expresses grief we cannot suppress their thoughts. We are at Loras to learn and we should not only learn academically but culturally and socially too.

The discussion on Monday provided insight to the Loras community and personal perspectives from students. However, this also displayed the need for more DuTalks because there is still much work to be done on the Loras campus.

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