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Mitzel: Dialogue helps us understand

I recently attended a Title IX training in Grand Forks. For many, the meaning of Title IX is tied to equity in athletics.

The full definition of Title IX, however, reads as the following: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

Expanding well beyond athletics, the definition of Title IX stipulates that no person shall be excluded of any program offered on a collegiate campus. If a person is the focus of harassment or violence of any type, this person's rights to equity have been compromised. As a community, we need to explore these issues and ensure that our family members are able to work and learn in environments that are free from discrimination and which nurture respect and understanding.

In September, DSU hosted the first NDUS Envision 2030 Pillar conversation on the topic of diversity. One of the goals articulated was to "prepare students to work in a global environment and diverse society."

Understanding our students' needs and the changing landscape of culture is crucial to meeting that goal. The conversation of student diversity within the Envision 2030 realm began in May. The Pillar conversation hosted by DSU last month ensures that this discussion will not end; that we will continue to focus on how to sustain the goal of bettering the educational experience for our students. Our students and family members deserve to have the freedom to learn, to teach, and to express their rights as U.S. citizens and proud members of the DSU community.

Within the context of expression, last week a few DSU students linked arms during the national anthem, thus joining a national movement to protest what they perceive as injustice within certain policy areas in the U.S. While acting in a respectful and meaningful manner, the students have indicated that their desire is to stimulate a campus and community dialogue about the subject.

Each of us has a different lens through which we see the world, with our individual view being shaped by our experiences. The events that have inspired the protests we are viewing in many major athletic events across the country also touch the lives of our students.

As a campus, we have implemented monthly programs informed by the theme "dialogue on diversity." We will continue these efforts and develop additional pathways to allow further conversations and outreach on campus and in the Dickinson community.

These interactions will aid in facilitating a better understanding of humanity. We have also introduced the "Blue Hawk Bond," a community building initiative informed by principles, which encourages our students and campus community to be caring, celebrative, disciplined, just, open and purposeful.

Understanding is perhaps the most critical element when discussing issues of diversity and examining our own responses to the dynamic culture and society in which we live.

I challenge our DSU and Dickinson community to actively engage in understanding. Understanding our own bias, understanding how our experiences shape our worldview, understanding that others have a lens that may focus slightly different from our own, understanding their experiences may vary from ours, understanding that needs may differ, and most importantly, understanding that we must intellectually and purposefully engage in an interchange in a way that is respectful of these differences.

We need to participate in interactions that help all of us understand our backgrounds and those of others better.