Conversations, the first summit of a new dialogue series, took place Thursday at Frist Campus Center’s food gallery during late meal.
This new initiative, sponsored by USG and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, intends to bring students from different backgrounds together and engage them in dialogues on different topics.
“I was initially hoping that there would be a couple of 15-minute dialogues in five tables,” U-Councilor Sol Taubin ’16, the lead project coordinator for Conversations, said. “We had 7 full tables going, and about 150 to 200 people showed up, staying for 45 minutes to an hour. It was incredible.”
Taubin said she first conceived the idea for this project in February and has worked since then with different student groups to facilitate these discussions.
She noted that while students engage in classroom discussions and quick talks among friends, there weren’t as many opportunities for them to have sincere dialogue with new people from different parts of campus. The goal of the Conversations project, Taubin said, is to condense the resources available for campus dialogue to a time, such as late meal, where many different students are present.
“A lot of times, students want to have those insightful conversations and talk about their identity, their meaning and their purpose on campus,” USG vice president Molly Stoneman ’16 said. “But, we’re busy. We’re busy Princeton students, and it’s hard to find time for that in our schedule.”
While students often pass off a class precept as having that conversation, Conversations would allow students to take those discussions to a deeper level, she added.
The topic of Thursday night’s discussion was how people’s different identities shaped their Princeton experience, and students from different backgrounds came together to share their experiences with their personal identity.
Evan Kratzer ’16 described Conversations as a way to bring issues of diversity and identity to a greater audience. Kratzer is co-president of the Asian American Students Association, a student group that partnered with Conversations.
Kratzer explained that Conversations is a way for USG and ODUS to have more people think and speak about these crucial issues. While friend groups may often be formed around gender and race, bringing those people together would bring a mixture of ideas and identities, he said.
“It’s great because I felt that this could be a training ground for us to start having these candid discussions,” said Khallid Love ’15, a participant in Conversations. “It’s imperative we have these discussions and we have them truthfully because so many times, we’re worried about sounding polite and politically correct that we miss the meat of what we should be getting into.”
Love added that he hopes that USG and ODUS continue to do the project because he said that students at Princeton really need to regularize these discussions.
The summit on Thursday was the first of many more discussions to come, Taubin said. She explained that her goal is to have Conversations occur on a monthly basis and be able to explore a wider variety of issues, including success and inspiration among students.