University, Student Government to host first Courageous Conversations event

By Ashley A. Williams

University, Student Government to host first Courageous Conversations event

By Ashley A. Williams
The new discussion series will offer a forum for direct engagement with leadership about how the University of Miami can come together to create a more inclusive environment and serve as an overall exemplary institution. It also will address issues presented by participants.

Over the past few months, the University of Miami has taken a hard look at how it can truly serve as an exemplary institution, accelerating its work on diversity, equity, and inclusion as it works to help heal the pain in our communities caused by racism and inequality. The University has committed this academic year to engaging boldly in addressing pressing social issues, including racial justice.

On Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m., the Office of the President will partner with Student Government to host the first in a series called “Courageous Conversations,” where each person has the opportunity to take part. The first conversation is a virtual event about “Finding Common Ground and Building Community.’’

Last summer, after meeting with University trustees, academic leaders, students, and faculty and staff members, President Julio Frenk unveiled a 15-point plan to address racial justice. Frenk is encouraging the University community to join this first discussion, which will be part of a series that will explore the standards of the University and its goals for the future. The University community, students especially, strongly are encouraged to participate and share their perspectives.

“We have endeavored to create a culture of belonging, where everyone is valued and has the opportunity to add value,” noted Frenk. “Such an environment must embrace continuous improvement, and change depends on deep commitment translated into specific plans and subject to transparent accountability. Equally important is the driving force derived from everyday decisions and actions by each one of us.” 

Panelists Jeffrey Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Patricia A. Whitely, senior vice president of student affairs, will also offer thoughts on ways the University community can come together to create a more inclusive environment. Abigail Adeleke, Student Government president, and Alexander LaBarbera, speaker of the Student Government Senate, will co-moderate the forum.

“We want to provide an open dialogue discussion very similar to President Frenk’s State of the University, where he provides his framework and goals and then students have the opportunity to ask him questions about the projects he’s working on,” said Adeleke.

“Courageous Conversations” was an idea prompted by events that took place on campus during the height of the last U.S. presidential election. Adeleke and her executive board decided that it was important for students to have an outlet to openly discuss and address issues.

“We are asking students to come with well-informed questions and concerns and be willing to have a conversation about things that have happened on campus and things that they want to see happen in the future,” said Adeleke. “We wanted to create a space where students felt heard following events that have transpired on campus.”

As President Frenk recently reminded the university community, “The historic time in which we are living, as we work to overcome not only a pandemic but the economic and social ills it has accentuated, hearken us to press on toward the vision of a campus—and a world—where opportunity and accomplishment are truly dictated by the aspects of our identities over which we have both control and responsibility: our character, our integrity, and the way we treat others.”

Those interested in participating in Wednesday’s event can RSVP here.