Ithaca College students, staff and faculty came together on the evening of Aug. 31 to share a meal and discuss issues of violence that have affected the college campus and beyond.
The gathering was loosely moderated by Director of Programs and Outreach Sean Eversley Bradwell, who told those in attendance that the intent behind the event was to “break bread and be together” in order to begin a dialogue about how to make the campus a better community and reflect on serious national and global issues.
“I feel blessed in that there were wide-ranging conversations and this was our initial hope,” said Bradwell. “Some conversations were very specific to our campus and the events of this past weekend. Other conversations included powerful answers to questions about a favorite movie or how we describe ourselves. Our goal was to foster the work of building a community and to create some dialogue by sharing some food together.”
Bradwell explained that the gathering was planned during the summer in response to several violent events in the United States and around the world. He noted that the tragic death of Ithaca College student Anthony Nazaire ’19, who was killed during a fight at Cornell University on Aug. 28, brought the reality of violence home for the campus community.
Bradwell read a passage from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” He emphasized the need to have social action backed by education and knowledge and implored those in attendance to make sure that their actions are informed by research and dialogue with others.
Following Bradwell’s remarks, community members were asked to converse with each other at their tables, aided by a set of ice-breaker questions. Some of the topics discussed included issues of racism and bigotry, the Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016, and Nazaire’s homicide.
“It was a great way to meet new people and to gain new perspectives,” said Jessica Hanshaw ’19. “It keeps me from being naïve and thinking that some of these sorts of things don’t happen. It keeps me educated and knowledgeable, and aware that there are more opinions than just mine.”
Christie Citranglo ’17 said the gathering was a great opportunity to talk open-mindedly about sensitive topics.
“There are so many things that society considers taboo, like race relations or gender and sexuality,” said Citranglo. “It’s good to have an open forum about that.”
A banner was displayed outside the gathering. Those in attendance were asked to use the banner as a space to write down what they think the campus community should be talking about. Index cards were also provided to write down ideas or actions that the college should consider.
At the opening of the gathering, a moment of silence was held for Nazaire and other victims of violence around the world.