Seniors Jayanni Webster, Abbey Schaplowsky, and Corie Fine were working together on a class project when they realized how diverse their own lives were—and how the campus as a whole is full of thousands of individuals, each with their own differences.
From this idea came “Dialogue: A Conversation on Race and Religion at UT,” a film screening and panel discussion devised as a way to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive way for students to talk about different social issues, specifically race and religion. The event was held earlier this month at the Black Cultural Center.
To make the film, they chose twelve students to participate in individual interviews and then come together for two one-hour sessions facilitated by Kelly Baker, lecturer in religious studies, and Steve Pearson, lecturer in English. The faculty were chosen because of their own personal and professional experiences with race and religion.
“This project is important because it is helping to create dialogue among students about the broad issue of race and religion, issues that usually polarize students. We want to make a gray area where you don’t have to be either/or, where people can discuss these things comfortably using their own personal experiences,” Webster said. “To some extent, these conversations are happening already, but sometimes people feel uncomfortable. This is to offer a safe environment for everyone to voice their ideas.”