Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Sustained Dialogue increases student involvement

Dr. Mariano Magalhaes, political science professor, and Kai Swanson, special assistant to the president discuss the role of Augustana College in response to the 2016 election results at Sunday night’s election recap dialogue. There were election dialogue sessions held in Westerlin, Erickson, Andreen and Swanson. Photo by LuAnna Gerdemann.

The Sustained Dialogue program will be joined by over 120 new student participants this term. The steering committee hopes more students will continue to get involved.
A new student-led group has been formed within Sustained Dialogue. There are five groups within the steering committee, according to sophomore and president of the steering committee, Emma Samatas. One group is in charge of action plans.
“At the end of Sustained Dialogue, everyone comes up with an action plan. This group is in charge of making sure these action plans actually happen,” Samatas said.
According to Dean Campbell, the steering committee was formed through an application process. After the group was selected, leaders were chosen within the steering committee.
Samatas is currently holding the role as president of the steering committee. According to Samatas, she is in charge of running meetings with the steering committee, sending campus wide emails, putting together groups for the term, and setting up events like the training sessions.
“I hope it gives the student leaders a great leadership opportunity here. It gives them some experiences and skills and connections and networks that they may not have had. I also hope that it infuses into the student body,” Dean of Students Evelyn Campbell said.
Sustained Dialogue is an opportunity for people in the Augustana community to talk about and share their unpopular opinions, according to a member of the steering committee, first-year student Taylor Ashby.
“I think that our campus has a lot of the same opinions and these are the ones that we keep hearing,” Ashby said.
Ashby hopes that more students with different opinions will come and participate, as It is a good opportunity to hear people that disagree with you.
First-year student Robert Burke has participated in Sustained Dialogue for the last 2 terms and will be participating this term. The best part of participating is “letting your voice be heard,” Burke said.
Samatas and Ashby hope that getting more people involved will create a more diverse group of opinions. According to Samatas, getting people who care about different things together is what Sustained Dialogue is about.
“Diversity can include a better ratio of faculty to staff, administrators to students, that way it is not all students or all faculty. The idea isn’t for it to be an echo chamber. It’s supposed to be a place where people of all backgrounds come to dialogue about issues,” Samatas said.
Along with new student members, Dr. Margaret Kunde and Professor Brett Biebel will be leading a new specialized group focusing on bridging the political divide. This group will include students from different political backgrounds, according to Samatas.
Sustained Dialogue is an international program. Other campuses also have student lead programs, according to Dean Campbell.
There will be moderator training on Apr. 21-22. Dr. Pareena Lawrence and Dean Campbell sent out an email with information about the training sessions.
“If people like complaining, then complain to Sustained Dialogue, and then figure ways to change things that you don’t like, and things that aren’t going well. People who have good ideas may not be sharing them with the right people,” Burke said.

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Sustained Dialogue increases student involvement