Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Sustained Dialogue hits campus

Sustained Dialogue groups combine students, faculty, staff, and administrators to meet for 75 minutes each week to discuss issues varying from socioeconomic status of students to gender equality on campus and determine how Augustana can work to improve or eradicate problems that can arise. Those conversations are beginning this week
Dean of Students, Dr. Evelyn Campbell describes Sustained Dialogue as, “a group of people who commit to meet for a period of time to talk about the difficult issues.”
Each group, made up of 10-15 members, decide on a single topic of discussion and focus on that for the entirety of the term. Groups having discussed issues like socioeconomic status gaps, gender inequality, and race, hope to come up with a plan of action to fix issues like these on campus.
“You talk, and then you come up with an action plan,” Campbell said, “Then you carry it out on campus and it improves the campus.”
Groups are formed through sign up. At the start of each term, new signups for Sustained Dialogue groups will be made and new members can join if they so choose. Second year Austynn Eubank says that signing up for a specific group helps the members of that group learn to trust each other.
“I know that everyone else around me wants to be participating in this group and wants to see positive change,” Eubank said. “Groups build a safe environment for each other as soon as they start, which is hard to find in groups that can change week to week.”
Eubank spent winter term last year training to be a group moderator, a role of authority in each group who takes the lead when discussion needs guiding. This year, her group contains many members with relations to Greek Life, so they’ve decided to spend the term brainstorming ways to improve the Greek Life at Augustana.
“We want to focus a lot on inclusion and exclusion of different types of people even in Greek Life itself,” Eubank said, “And maybe how that affects the overall culture of the campus.”
Groups determine at the start that they forget titles and refer only by first names. Students refer to professors informally and even administrators drop the formalities of titles. Campbell, who is a participant in Sustained Dialogue groups, said, “When we’re in these groups, I see students in a different way than sometimes I see them in my office. And students also see me differently in those groups than they see me sometimes when they’re in my office.”
The goal of staying on a first name basis is to create an extra layer of trust and equality in these groups. According to Campbell, dropping titles allows participants to “really see that people are people.”
Eubank, when asked what she would say when recommending Sustained Dialogue to a student, said, “I would tell them that if there’s anything on campus that they see and they don’t like, they have the voice to change that.”

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Sustained Dialogue hits campus