Halfway into its first year, the Department of Diversity and Inclusion continues to host Tech Talks, an open forum for Tech students to discuss current social and other prominent issues.
“When I first got here, that was one of the first things I started,” said MarTeze Hammonds, associate dean of the department. “It gives students the opportunity, in a large forum, to talk about differences in a safe place, intellectually, and to show that Arkansas Tech can have diverse discussions on our campus.”
The open forum is held once a month in BazTech.
“Students have the opportunity to come in between twelve and one and just discuss,” Hammonds said.
Hailey Robinson, a senior speech communication and sociology major from Okmulgee, Oklahoma, had the opportunity to participate in the most recent Tech Talk.
“It was about symbols,” Robinson said in an email. “Although I did not agree with the opinions of everyone, I am learning to appreciate the stories and the context behind the answers of others. For that reason alone, I believe events like this are necessary to show us that we are all human, and we all have a story.”
Hammonds urges students, professors and others to participate in the forums.
“The goal is that we get to a place on this campus where we’re not afraid to have conversations in public spaces about moving our campus from equality to equity and making sure our campus is diverse and inclusive.”
This equality to equity theme is a driving force for the Tech Talks.
“We cannot continue to look at diversity and inclusion as a ‘one size fits all’ glove,” Hammonds said in an email. “If there is a need for everyone to wear protective gloves, do we provide the same one size fits all glove to everyone (that’s equality), or do we provide them with the size needed to truly fit and protect them (equity)?”
“Our campus will be empowered, encouraged and will grow as a community as long as we continue to converse in public and private spaces about very difficult topics. The community is strengthened when we can come together and have intellectual discussions in which folks share their beliefs openly and without fear of being ridiculed.”
The next Tech Talk on Oct. 29 will be focused on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community. The Tech Talk on Nov. 12 will be focused on the physically handicapped.