Ahead of a grand jury’s decision on whether to charge Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, Missouri State University has scheduled a series of meetings to, as the school puts it, “express feelings, decompress and share self-reflections.”
These facilitated dialogues began Monday afternoon, with a second meeting Monday night and additional sessions Tuesday and Wednesday.
Presented by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the “Dialogue and Decompress” discussions will be based upon topics and questions from faculty, staff, and students that deal with diversity issues.
Francine Pratt is the executive director for the Multicultural Resource Center.
“We try to keep it steered in the direction of them [attendees asking questions] at least being able to say how they feel and how they are impacted and in some cases even take suggestions for what we can do at MSU to help them through this time,” Pratt said.
The shooting death of Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson sparked at times violent protests. In Springfield, silent protests from students during MSU’s homecoming festivities have led to dialogue on local race relations.
Pratt says these “Dialogue and Decompress” sessions were the idea of staff members to provide the students with a place to express their views.
“Some of the faculty from the PSU actually contacted the Diversity Office and said you know we are planning all of these activities and it just seems like we should have something in place for students to be able to express and feel.”
In addition to the sessions already scheduled, more are to be added within the next few days. Long-term programs to develop cultural consciousness for students, faculty and staff are also in the planning stages, the university says.
“Anyone who calls MSU their home. It doesn’t matter the race, the ethnicity, the gender, it’s anyone who goes to school at MSU, works at MSU, teaches at MSU, so it is open to any and every one on that campus,” said Pratt.
For more information, call the Multicultural Resource Center at 417-836-5652 or go online to view future discussions sessions and events.