November 22, 2013
Student groups starts the conversationAs a community, Susquehanna has known struggle. In two years, students have seen nooses hanging in Fisher Hall and swastikas at a local synagogue, stood for Trayvon Martin among national headlines and now are struggling to understand the government shutdown.
Some of these things have passed, but the memory remains like a faded bruise upon the hearts of Crusaders. These bruises are tender to the touch. This community needs a salve for these wounds. How do we talk about these tragedies? Where does the language of moral pain come from?
Sustained Dialogue recently developed its own language for speaking about the broad issues that leave us scarred in their wake: strains due to socioeconomic status, the pressure of racial divisions, the gap in understanding different religions, parsing out the correct words for gender and sex, the struggle behind sexual orientation and the limiting effects of ability and mobility.
These conversations are fostered by a development of rules, or norms, for conversation about these bruising topics. Through showing respect for fellow dialoguers and seeking to know the soft places where the hurt lies, a kind of closure is reached.
But what about you? What about the reader? The non-member? The outcast? The silent struggler in a sea of observers? The voiceless? The Susquehanna community has seen the news. They are privy to the strains behind these topics. They sit in Evert Dining Room watching the monitors as broadcasters drill into their souls, leaving dark fingerprints on their hearts for those prejudiced against, those oppressed. They are left mute, aching for a language for their own tenderness.
The language for crisis is not easily learned. But Our Susquehanna, an offshoot of Sustained Dialogue, seeks to equip the everyday student with tools to speak without fear.
The tools are simple: remember you are dialoguing about feelings and ideas, that each individual has a valid voice, that you must respect the opinions that Susquehanna itself encourages students to develop, that you must assume good intentions and that you must hear someone out before jumping to respond. This code of ethics behind conversation becomes the bridge between one hurt and another.
More importantly, remember the importance of solidarity. Susquehanna is one community. It is a community made up of philosophers, athletes, artists, scientists, mathematicians, logicians and individuals whose black and blue hearts are burning to serve this world.
Susquehanna struggles together under these heavy blows from the outside. Susquehanna is affected together. Susquehanna has a voice. With yours, this community will become a mighty chorus rising up against the forces that seek to stifle it. Start the conversation now.