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Office of DEI Hosts Post-Election Discussion on Healing and Unity

by Janelle Hill Nov 12, 2020

How do we put the divisive rhetoric of Election 2020 in the rearview mirror and begin to move forward? 

The office of diversity, equity, and inclusion tackled the issue with a campus-wide virtual panel discussion focused on reflection and unity. 

The panelists, like many across campus and the country, admitted to feeling exhausted and on edge in the wake of the election. During the hour-long discussion, they touched on everything from self-care, healing, and unity to athlete activism, increases in homegrown violence and white supremacy, and the long-term trends of the election. 

“You have this concerted effort to undermine democratic institutions that for a long time we just took for granted, for good reason. You didn’t really think about the potential for not having a peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. In modern history, that has never been a problem.”

 Dr. Theodore Masthay, assistant professor of political science

When it comes to uncomfortable conversations with family and friends, both Dr. Michelle Fabiani, assistant professor of criminal justice, and Dr. LaShara Davis, assistant professor of communication, stressed the importance of engaging with empathy and finding that middle ground. 

“We’ve lost our ability to debate ideas in many senses,” Davis said. “We don’t debate ideas; we attack people. We have to be mindful, especially in those relationships that we hold dear to us, that it’s not about attacking the person. I can disagree with you, but that doesn’t mean that I demonize you as a person.”

Dr. Lauren Brown, associate professor of sport management, and Dr. Kelley Kenney, director of the graduate program in higher education, rounded out the panel. Scott Blair, associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion, moderated the discussion.