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Bowdoin Dialogues launches spring semester conversations on race and class

March 5, 2021

Bowdoin Dialogues, a group led by Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Inclusion and Diversity Eduardo Pazos and Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion and Diversity Kate Stern, launched its most recent series of discussions focusing on issues surrounding race and class this week.

“We’ve had our Bowdoin Dialogues initiative for a while now,” Pazos said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “It started as part of our intergroup dialogue model. Intergroup dialogue is a nationally known pedagogy that focuses on teaching issues of racial justice and social justice in general.”

Bowdoin Dialogues is offering four workshops this semester: a six-week in-person workshop on “Race, Power and Liberation,” led by Pazos and Stern; two six-week workshops—virtual and in-person—on “Exploring Antiracism,” led by Abby Bennitt ’23 and Ryan Telingator ’21; and a three-week virtual dialogue on socioeconomic class led by Sarah Seames, director of the McKeen Center for the Common Good, and Yasamin Holland, administrative coordinator for Inclusion and Diversity.

The “Exploring Antiracism” dialogue led by Bennitt and Telingator is intended for white-identifying students who want to discuss racial issues without placing the burden of teaching anti-racist work on students of color.

“[We talk] about microaggressions [and] the different ways that [white students] are involved with upholding structures that oppress others,” Bennitt said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “[These conversations make] space that allows us to work within ourselves, rather than putting the burden of teaching those lessons on students of color at Bowdoin.”

Stern emphasized that none of the conversations are limited to students with existing knowledge and experience in social justice organizing.

“For the student who thinks about this all the time and is a leader on [or off] campus, yes, we want you to come to this workshop,” Stern said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “For the person who says, ‘hmm, maybe I should go to that, but that’s new to me…’ this is for you, too.”

The goal of these workshops is straightforward: to help build a more inclusive Bowdoin.

“Often, as we talk about creating a more inclusive Bowdoin, the question that arises is, ‘how do we get there?’” Pazos said. “[The workshops are] just one more way in which we can really center the conversation of, ‘what we can do to make sure that everyone belongs at Bowdoin, everyone feels welcome at Bowdoin?’”

Telingator emphasized that making time for these conversations, even in Bowdoin students’ busy schedules, is important.

“Everyone does extracurriculars, everyone is in hard classes, but anti-racism is an ongoing process and a lifelong journey,” Telingator said. “It really pays to participate in what is offered, because there are definitely benefits.”


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