Table talks foster inclusivity on campus

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | February 11, 2019

Image with caption: From left, Amanda Smith and Shaker Dukkipati

From left, Amanda Smith and Shaker Dukkipati

The UNMC Student Senate held the first of a series of table talks on inclusivity for UNMC students last month.

The talk was held in partnership with Inclusive Communities (IC) -- a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting inclusivity -- and Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Success. The focus was on building an inclusive culture on campus.

Amanda Smith, chair of the Student Senate's Activities Committee, said students were looking for a more interactive experience than a lecture.

"Previous events were more like seminars, where people came, sat, had lunch and listened to a speaker, and it was in a very large setting and people didn't really communicate with each other," she said. "With this, we have group discussions in a little more comfortable environment for people to interact and have conversations."

Shaker Dukkipati, another member of the committee, said the Student Senate is seeking forums to talk about difficult topics. Upcoming table talks will focus on "Inclusivity in your Career" and "Inclusivity for our Patients."

"We want to provide an opportunity to have discussions about things that people may not always feel comfortable talking about in a normal setting," he said. "If we're talking about exclusion, that can be a broad thing, so we want to make sure we address any lack of knowledge that might cause people to behave in a certain way."

Tena Hahn Rodriguez, program partner of volunteer initiatives for Inclusive Communities, said the organization was excited to be partnering with UNMC.

"When we talk about the disparities in health care, when we're thinking about race, gender identity, things like that, it's important to at least get the conversation started," she said.

Fifty-one students participated in the Omaha event, with an additional eight students participating via teleconference from the College of Dentistry in Lincoln, said Channing Bunch, director of recruitment and student engagement.

"All mentioned how valuable the discussions were and how they looked forward to more programs," Bunch said. "The goal is to train more facilitators to accommodate additional programs for UNMC students across all campuses. This will also allow for larger groups of attendees at each event. These events are best when we can keep a low number of participants per table, which requires more facilitators."

The next two events will be:
Inclusivity in your Career
When: Wednesday, Feb. 20
Where: Sorrell Center, Room 2010
Time: Noon-1 p.m.

Inclusivity for our Patients
When: Wednesday, March 27
Where: Sorrell Center, Room 2010
Time: Noon-1 p.m.

Sign up to attend the events through OrgSync here.

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