Group promotes dialogue, not debate

The “Voices of Discovery” group, beginning Feb. 4, aims to create a safe space on campus where students can voice their experiences without turning it into a debate.

The group takes place every Thursday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the second floor of the UC for seven weeks.

“The first week students get an entire description on what it means to (have) dialogue on these issues and not debate,” said staff therapist Ashley Evearitt. “If students start debating, we stop, reflect, and come back to dialoguing and understanding each other’s experiences.”

To qualify for full participation, students must attend the first session and at least five of the seven meetings.

While students will learn about the difference social justice issues, Evearitt said the group will focus more on the experiences of each student. Students from all walks of life are encouraged to join and share their own personal experiences.

“It’s more formalized (so) that you learn certain terms for things, you learn a little of the background on things. That’s a small part of it. More of it is students talking about experiences (and) their perspectives on things,” Evearitt said.

Professors also have the option of granting extra credit for attending the group.

Since the beginning, the group was structured to be co-curricular and exist alongside some currently offered classes. Extra credit for the group is solely up to the discretion of the professor and is not guaranteed for all classes.

The group is currently capped at 20 to 25 students, but could increase for future semesters based on student popularity.

Students can apply online on the Counseling Center’s website.

While it was important for the group to have a wide range of student backgrounds, Evearitt said it was also important to make sure each student was able to voice their experiences.

Evearitt said the decision to have the group take place in the University Center and not the Counseling Center was an important one.
“We don’t want it to feel like a therapy group, cause it’s definitely not,” she said. “It’s just kind of coming together and talking about different opinions.”