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University of Iowa News Release

 

Sept. 13, 2007

WRAC invites public to participate in Diversity Dialogue Circles

In the climate after Hurricane Katrina, many issues of race and privilege dominated discussions nationwide.

As an outgrowth of these conversations, the University of Iowa Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC) decided to create Diversity Dialogue Circles, a new program to encourage discussions of diversity issues. The circles will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Iowa Memorial Union beginning Sept. 25, 26 and 27. Participants must pre-register.

The program will continue for the following eight weeks. When registering, participants can choose which day they will attend the weekly circles. Six to ten people will be in each Diversity Dialogue Circle. This program is free and open to the public. An online form to register is available at: http://www.uiowa.edu/%7Ewrac/DiversityDialogues.htm.

"The idea for Diversity Dialogue Circles developed from a conference WRAC sponsored several months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Participants at that conference expressed the need for opportunities for individuals to talk about issues of race, privilege and difference," said Linda Kroon, WRAC's operations coordinator. Following a successful pilot program during the spring 2007 semester, the Diversity Dialogue Circles are now being offered to members of the campus and surrounding community, beginning the last week of September.

The purpose of Diversity Dialogue Circles is to increase cultural competency amongst individuals and to raise awareness of power and privilege dynamics present in American society, according to Kroon. This knowledge can be applied to career goals, civic participation and academic studies.

"Since differences amongst individuals tend to be scary, Diversity Dialogue Circles strive to create a comfortable and safe environment to discuss diversity and eliminate misunderstanding," said Leslie Leathers, program coordinator of Diversity Dialogue Circles.

Leathers said she expects the circles to be "a wonderful experience for personal and community growth."

A trained facilitator, who will guide participants in an exploration of privilege, oppression and cultural competency, will lead each Diversity Dialogue Circle.

"People will be challenged to consider issues they have not thought about before," Leathers said. The circles will address many different aspects of diversity including gender, religion, sex, age and race. "Iowa is becoming more diverse. This will help build relationships and stronger communities."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Iowa is expected to gain 83,000 people through international migration between 1995 and 2025, placing it 32nd largest among the net international migration gains among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Between 1995 and 2025, the number of non-Hispanic whites residing in Iowa is projected to increase by 66,000, compared to a gain of 34,000 for non-Hispanic blacks, a gain of 5,000 for non-Hispanic American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleut, a gain of 42,000 thousand for the non-Hispanic Asians and Pacific Islanders and a gain of 51,000 for persons of Hispanic origin.

For more information or special accommodations to participate in the Diversity Dialogue Circles, contact Kroon at linda-kroon@uiowa.edu or Leathers at leslie-leathers@uiowa.edu or visit the Web site http://www.uiowa.edu/~wrac/DiversityDialogues.htm

WRAC is a diverse community dedicated to fostering women's individual empowerment and systemic solutions to all forms of oppression. The center leads and collaborates on projects that serve UI students, staff, faculty and the greater community. The center is a department within the UI Division of Student Services and has a tradition of serving both members of the greater Iowa City area and the university community.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Linda Kroon, WRAC, 319-335-1487, linda-kroon@uiowa.edu; Leslie Leathers, WRAC, 319-335-1487, leslie-leathers@uiowa.edu; or Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077 or lois-gray@uiowa.edu; writer, Stacie Carpenter