World Café promotes engaging discussion of social issues

In the spirit of diversity and intersectionality awareness, the Center for Community hosted the educational event World Café at the Interfaith Center on Monday March 28.

The affair was set up to include six tables, each of which had a different subcategory, which included race and ethnicity, ability and disability, socioeconomic status and class, sexuality, gender identity and religion. The concept was that participants at each table would discuss their particular subject with one another and then bring their thoughts to the whole audience for further exploration. Center for Community Coordinator of LGBTQ+ Programs and Services Aiden Cropsey ‘14 led the dialogue, asking questions and providing insight.

Cropsey was one of the key creators of the World Café forum, along with senior Kyle Frink, junior Laura Brown and junior Thomas McCarthy. They cooperatively brainstormed and implemented the idea, taking feedback from outside sources into account as well.

“I was happy with people’s participation,” Frink said. “We covered issues specifically on the Geneseo campus and in the general community as well. It was definitely an educational experience for everyone.”

Frink added that an important aspect of the event was taking into consideration not only how diversity and intersectionality is viewed and represented on the personal level in the community, but also through media sources.

“We reflected on what kinds of exposure various groups get, and if they’re really visible at all,” Frink said. “I think people of a variety of different backgrounds need more outlets to show themselves and feel comfortable—feel like they can be heard and be involved in some way.”

At World Café, a variety of finger foods were available. The spread included a Mediterranean platter, sushi and dumplings. Frink noted that although the food provided was not necessarily representative of as wide a range of cultures as they would have liked due to source limitations, they attempted to include as much multiplicity as possible to parallel the event’s purpose.

Following the assembly’s symposium about the six focus topics, attendees were encouraged to devise ways to dynamically advance societal awareness of diversity and intersectionality.

“We asked for an action item from each table about how to alleviate the issues and help promote diversity,” Frink said. “We got a lot of great responses.”

They emphasized their appreciation for the turnout and fruitful involvement at the event, but noted that there is still work to be done in order to reach the audiences that truly require education in the domain––individuals who may not be apt to pursue such resources on their own.

“A big thing we talked about in the action items section is how to approach people who are actively or even passively against diversity initiatives,” Frink said. “I think we need to reach out to our target audience more effectively.”

Though they are graduating in May, Frink indicated that they wish for campus conversations regarding inclusion and respect to persist.

“I think events like this should and will continue to happen—exploring how we can move forward and continue creating social progress,” Frink said.