The 5th Annual Diversity Dinner took place on March 5, 2014 at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus. Salt Lake Community College students, staff, faculty and their family members took part in a powerful dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds while also enjoying a delicious dinner provided by Student Life and Leadership and funding from the Arts & Cultural Events Committee (ACE).
“In my culture, eating in a group and having conversation are the most meaningful conversations,” says Doctor Abio Ayeliya, Leadership and Diversity coordinator.
Everyone in attendance was divided into different tables, sorted by the letter of their first name. This was done to create an appreciation and understanding for diversity in the community. The objective of the night was to provide opportunities for respectable dialogue and interactions and seeking solutions to further integrate communities.
“I’m missing class to be here, but that’s how important I feel about understanding diversity and appreciating it,” says SLCC student Marilyn Figiel, who was a first time attendee. “I wanted to be here tonight because I wanted to learn.”
As dinner, which included fajitas, salad, rice and beans, was being served, the first question of the night was presented. Over the next three hours, two more questions were posed and opened for discussion. The questions related to diversity and culture, discussing and examining what can be done on campus to make things better.
Peter Moosman, SLCC alum and host, got feedback and insight from the audience on each question.
This was done, so everyone would feel comfortable and willing to share.
“I think it’s an amazing opportunity to come and have these conversations,” says Moosman. “We don’t get enough of them, so it’s always refreshing to be able to have this judge-free zone.”
As the evening continued, those who attended began to participate even more in the dialogue.
“I learned more about people,” says SLCC student Shelbie Boutwell.
The most influential conversation happened towards the end of the dinner.
Anyone who was willing to speak up with any final thoughts, with absolutely no judgment from the audience, was given the chance to during this time.
“We need to stop assuming. We do too much assuming, and when we assume, we come up with stereotypes,” says Figiel. “I am done with assuming; I am done with judging.”
Acknowledging people as they are, and having significant conversations with each other as a community, was the goal for the 5th Annual Diversity Dinner.
“We can sit and talk all night,” says Moosman. “The real challenge is being motivated enough to take this conversation out into the community and make some serious change.”