Last Thursday, LUCC’s Committee on Diversity Affairs (CoDA) held a second “Let’s Talk about Race at Lawrence” forum. Though moderately well attended, the forum barely reached one-third of the first forum’s 60-person attendance, hinting at a greater problem on campus.
We at The Lawrentian have observed a pattern of student involvement in critical social issues here at Lawrence: First, a scandal or controversy erupts, spurring the entire campus into critical yet inefficient debate in person and on social media. Next, a campus-wide discussion or other event is created and attended en masse. Finally, the issue is soon forgotten by a large part of the Lawrence population until another controversy rears its ugly head.
It is the collective responsibility of Lawrence’s student body—and each individual—to break this deeply concerning cycle. Though forums and events like “Let’s Talk about Race” serve as venues to discuss these complex and controversial issues in a smaller setting, they are preaching to the choir. Instead of spreading awareness throughout the entire Lawrence community, these forums tends attract only the most committed and aware individuals. While we commend the efforts of groups that organize these panels, we must strive for new ways to engage students from all corners of campus, lest these discussions die out in day-to-day discourse.
Students should step up to voice their opinions if they don’t think an issue has been thoroughly discussed or considered. Without an active voice, issues can be easily buried under our heavy course loads and commitments until they re-emerge months later, just as ugly as before.
It is encouraging that many students take a vested interest in conversations about diversity and inclusion on this campus, but sustained levels of enthusiasm and debate are necessary to make real progress.