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With the goal of establishing connections among diverse members of the Tufts University while exchanging perspectives on subjects that are significant to our community, the Office of the Provost launched a new university-wide community dinner series named Tufts Table09/24/2018 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - Deborah Kochevar, Provost and Senior Vice President ad Interim, gives remarks at the first Tufts Table event, this one hosted by the Bridging Differences Initiative, on September 24, 2018. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

The first event of this series successfully concluded on September 24th, 2018 and was co-sponsored by the Bridging Differences Initiative. The event was attended by 65 members of the Tufts community from different backgrounds and fields of work. The event started with Provost Kochevar’s welcome address followed by a brief description of the event outlined by the Chief Diversity Officers, Rob Mack and Joyce Sackey. The theme of the first event in this series was Dialogue, with the guiding question being: ‘In light of events where public demonstrations and conflicts of beliefs resulted in social and political divisiveness, do we have a more urgent responsibility to learn about others’ perspectives through dialogue?’

The attendees shared their key takeaway with us through feedback forms. Some of the key highlights from the discussion takeaway were:

  • It is important to have meaningful dialogue with people from outside of our peer groups.
  • One must accommodate different ideas while engaged in a conversation.
  • One must be a patient listener.
  • Give opportunities to others to speak, and be open-minded to learn new ideas/opinions.
  • Word choice matters while in a conversation.
  • Moderated and structured dialogues can help in bridging differences.

The event further echoed that there are ample avenues at Tufts which foster meaningful dialogues, such as townhall meetings, dean’s breakfast, events conducted by student council etc. The discussions also made it clear how dialogue can lead to a transformative experience by giving exposure, recognizing barriers, understanding other people’s point of view and by removing ‘power dynamics’ from the dialogue.

We received great appreciation from the attendees, such as:

The event was very well structured and well moderated.

Tufts is becoming open, respectful, thoughtful. It will be great to have diverse faculty and staff members onboard.

The questions were intellectually stimulating and paved way for accommodating different ideas.

09/24/2018 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - The first of a series of Tufts Table events, this one hosted by the Bridging Differences Initiative, took place on September 24, 2018. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)The calls for action after this discussion were:

  • How can these conversations extend outside of these formal events?
  • The marginalized voices must be amplified, and they should be given necessary resources.
  • Case studies related to Tufts should be included in future Tufts Table events.

The Office of the Provost would like to thank all the participants, the Bridging Differences Initiative and everyone who made this event possible. We will continue to ponder upon ways to further improve with your valuable feedback. To learn more about this event, and to find out about future dinners, please visit our main page.