In the past year or so, and especially since the election, we have noticed more students coming to the Writing Center with texts and speech expressing views about politics, social justice, and identity. Engaging with diverse and deeply held ideas and perspectives is a privilege we take seriously. Our ongoing research and approach to tutoring emphasizes respect for individual voices, experiences, goals, and learning styles. Last weekend we participated in a workshop led by Claudia Ford (Lecturer, HPSS), who helped us understand our role in fostering respectful, open dialogues, even, or especially, when they are difficult.
We’re still honing our skills in this work—in fact, we agreed that this practice requires perpetual reflection—but we want you to know that we’re here for you. We invite you to come in if you would like support in processing and articulating your thoughts or feelings about complex topics, whether that means practicing a speech for a rally, writing a cultural critique for class, or preparing for a Facebook conversation with a friend. All opinions and beliefs are welcome, because we believe that silencing opposing views is unfair and unproductive when we should be discussing them. However, we will stand against bigotry, whether in words or in actions, and put our skills toward building a more inclusive community.
We hope you will consider visiting us as a space for safe and open discussion.
We would also like to share some of the materials and tools we have found most helpful in exploring this topic and preparing for this work:
Nonviolent Communication Model, The Center for Nonviolent Communication
“Effective Dialogue Skills,” Kathy Obear
“How to DO Empathy,” Alan Seid
“You Talkin’ to Me?” John C. Cavanaugh
“Let’s Not Be Divided,” Trevor Noah