Discourage dysfunctional dialogue

By Trevor Tiemeyer, Staff Writer

Civil discourse and engagement is at an all-time low in our country. No one seems willing, let alone able, to hold a conversation with someone who has an opinion different from their own.  

It has even spread to trivial matters, such as arguing over books, classes, homework and dinner. 

Engagement is just as fruitless as dialogue, with very few people willing to become informed and bring the community together to have difficult conversations.  

Although Xavier has made attempts to encourage discourse and engagement, it has not always been successful at educating our population on various issues.

Additionally, there is a great inequality about what is allowed to be discussed and organized. Whether it be clubs, speakers or events, there is always some censorship. 

With that in mind, the Ignatian Speaker Initiative has tried to shed some light on the issue and create a more open space for discourse. Of course, there are still rules about content to be discussed, but the goal is to shift the focus from limiting voices to the safety for our students and an equal chance to be heard.  

Having been given a chance to lead and attend a number of events on campus, I have seen that we are in dire need of a greater variety of views. We learn nothing by simply hearing one side of the story.  

I have been given the opportunity to sit as an ambassador for our Take It On initiative led by Dr. Mack Mariani. A cohort of about 20 students have decided that we will not sit and let this happen any longer.   

Some of us are tasked with the voting information and others with a range of topics to prepare an event. Some of these topics include dialouge as a whole, anti-Semitism, mental health and wellness. Although we are being guided by staff and volunteers, these events are led by the ambassadors. 

Some of our events may offer a time for the crowd to give their opinion or a follow-up by a faith or community group on campus. We are also planning some follow-up events for the week after to give time for reflection and growth.  

To make these events the best possible, we have been generously gifted money from organizations such as the Cincinnati Jewish Federation and are partnering with the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion and the Center for Faith and Justice. 

Our goal is to bring together as many groups as possible to sit down with each other and have healthy dialogue.  

Whether you are a little curious or extremely passionate about a topic, I recommend joining us for any of the Take It On events. You may get to hear from someone with a different opinion, and it may make you upset or uncomfortable, but the important part is that you are experiencing it along with us. 

One of our ultimate goals is to provide Xavier students with a starting point to experience healthy engagement and dialouge. Discourse and engagement are learned and mastered through practice and patience, so we must always be sharpening our skills. 

So, I ask that you bring yourself and a friend so that we can prepare as many people as possible for the controversy of the world. Help us equip Xavier student to hold a solid, healthy conversation with anyone they may encounter regardless of sex, race, sexuality or whatever else the difference may be. 

We are limited to what we are able to pull off this year; however, the time for waiting on someone else to do it first is gone. Now is the time to step up and let your voice be heard.  

This transition will not be simple or quick, and progress is a painful and loathingly slow process, but that does not mean we are not trying to make the outcome a little more positive.  

I implore you to engage in healthy discourse, join the community in a service event, be informed on what is being polled and go out and vote. We need everyone to contribute and do whatever it is that you can to make the future just a little bit brighter for the next generation and our own.