The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is hosting a virtual panel on safety with Appleton city officials on Thursday, Oct. 29, as part of the Cultural Competency Lecture Series. Panelists will include Mayor Jake Woodford, Police Chief Todd Thomas and Appleton’s Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator, Karen Nelson.
The purpose of the event is to inform Lawrence students about resources available to them in Appleton and discuss “local diversity, inclusion and antiracism initiatives,” according to the event description. Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Lawrence’s Diversity and Intercultural Center, Brittany Bell, is serving as moderator for the event, which will be held over Zoom. Students will be able to ask questions through the chat function.
“[Students] are an important piece of the [Appleton] community,” Bell said. “Even if it is for a term, even if it is for an academic year, they’re still an important part of the community, and I don’t think their voice is often heard.” Bell continued, “Really the whole idea was to … connect students to city officials and get them connected with resources but also to help them build a relationship with people who are in those roles making those decisions.”
In a more typical year, Lawrence would host a picnic with city officials to facilitate these conversations. This year, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Cultural Competency Lecture Series has transferred these types of events to a virtual format.
Freshman Arlet Montalvo-Mosso, who plans to attend the event, said, “As a person who isn’t originally an Appleton citizen, I feel included that they are going to do this specifically for students at Lawrence.” Montalvo-Mosso continued, “I feel like we are being considered as part of the community. I appreciate that they’re going to host this event so that we can share our opinions, our worries and our demands.”
Montalvo-Mosso is particularly interested in attending in part due to the political climate and recent events.
“I want to know what plans the mayor has for the safety of marginalized people — Black people, POC, Indigenous people — especially now that the elections are coming,” Montalvo-Mosso said. “I want to know how he is going to create a safe environment in the Appleton community.”
Students with concerns are encouraged to use this event as an opportunity to ask questions and communicate with city officials directly. Questions can be submitted beforehand or during the panel itself.
Montalvo-Mosso hopes to be more informed about Appleton plans for safety after the event.
“More than hearing the words ‘we will help you’ or ‘we stand with you,’ I want to know that they are actually going to do something to protect people who are marginalized,” Montalvo-Mosso said. “I don’t want to hear false hope or false promises; I want to actually see a plan and for that plan to be taken into action.”
Students can RVSP to the event and learn how to submit questions by contacting Executive Assistant Cindy Pickart at email@example.com.