During DialoguEMU’s last meeting on Thursday, students split into three small groups and reflected on what they liked and didn’t like about DialoguEMU this semester. One of the questions had to do with how the group members would describe DialoguEMU to people who may not know what it is.
“DialoguEMU is an avenue to share experiences on campus and gain insight to other people’s perceptions of Eastern Michigan University,” senior Thomas Bawden said.
The small groups reflected with each other about how easy it is to talk to people in the group versus in a classroom setting. Sitting in a circle with peers helped them feel more comfortable discussing questions and thinking about other group members’ different viewpoints.
The members of DialoguEMU range from faculty all the way down to freshman students.
“We want to expand, and encourage more people from different parts of campus to come to our meetings,” said Peggy Liggit, director of the Faculty Development Center.
While the small groups crowded around their tables, they were more willing to share information about themselves and their personal lives. They learned how to share opinions without getting heated and angry with others. Many group members confessed they don’t have in-depth dialogue like they do in DialoguEMU with their friends, significant others or family.
“The informal setting is nice because it allows the conversation to go in different ways that it might not have if the setting was more formal,” senior Stephanie Cogo said. “It allows people to go into different topics and makes for richer dialogue. The conversations we had allow people to open up and engage with others on a deeper level.”
Aside from DialoguEMU itself, the groups also talked about more specific things such as parking on campus. One student mentioned that he parked in Rynearson Lot for free and took the free Trinity
Transportation Rynearson Shuttle to campus.
“We need to publicize all the good places to park and people should definitely plan ahead so they are more prepared,” Bawden said. “There are places to park if students look for them.”
Throughout the dialogue within the groups, people mentioned they preferred dialogue to debates and discussions.
“People are trying to win points in a debate at all costs,” Liggit said. “In a discussion, the person’s agenda matters the most and they talk about it, but shared meaning isn’t important like it is in a dialogue. Dialogue is looking for multiple perspectives. It’s OK to disagree. Dialogue is trying to get at the deeper issues at why someone has a perspective; no one knows where the dialogue will go.”
The small groups also spoke about what they wished they could change about DialoguEMU. Included on the list was the hope that there would be more diversity in students in the future. They wanted people who had different majors because most of the students at the meeting were referred by their communication professors. Another thing they mentioned was the idea of making each meeting about one specific topic to attract more people.
“It sounds like people wanted dialogue about selected topics since it will attract more students who may be interested in one topic over another,” Liggit said.. “Although one thing I wouldn’t change about DialoguEMU is the structure that encourages probing questions and respect for and from others.”
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