The Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Real Talk Series has facilitated student discussions and presentations since spring 2018.
Dahlia Hylton, the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, said the premise of the Real Talk Series is to promote dialogue around multiculturalism.
Real Talk events feature student presentations about various topics, from interracial dating to cultural appropriation. Students who attend participate in open conversation and grapple with complex ideas about race, diversity and tolerance in the campus community.
Jessica Mun, ’21, and Aisha Abdulkarimu, ’20, presented Detecting Unconscious Bias: An Expansion of “Check Your Blind Spots,” on Nov. 1 in the M-room as part of the Real Talk Series.
Students shared biases they had experienced in the classroom based on race and gender.
“When students are being subject to microaggressions and to covert and overt forms of discrimination at places like Lehigh, that has such a significant impact on their mental health status is going to be like, along with academics,” Hylton said.
Participants discussed potential solutions to bias at Lehigh, such as evoLUtion-like courses for new students.
Donald Outing, Lehigh’s vice president for equity and community, said while Real Talk is productive and engaging, he still wishes more students were willing to participate.
“I think we need to have better conversations and create forums to have conversations (for) better understanding and awareness of issues for all of our constituents here,” Outing said. “I really wish we could get more students to come to the table to participate in some of these opportunities.”
For students who do participate, however, the series offers an inclusive space in which to share experiences and perspectives.
Abdulkarimu said there are many discussions that need to be had on campus.
“We’re all focused on our academics, that’s what we came here for,” she said, “But at the same time, we have a lot more on our minds.”