A Beneficence Dialogue will kick off the month of March, and the last dialogue of the academic year will conclude it.

The two, taking place on March 1 and 29, will cover disability education and awareness and diversity in the classroom, respectively.

Unlike past Beneficence Dialogues, these will not take place in Cardinal Halls A, B and C — rather, they will be held in the smaller L.A. Pittenger Student Center room 303, something the Student Government Association (SGA) secretary of diversity Mariann Fant said creates an “intimate,” specialized conversation that is sometimes lacking in other dialogues.

Upcoming Beneficence Dialogue:

Topic: Diversity in the classroom

When: 5 p.m., March 29

Where: L.A. Pittenger Student Center forum room

“Last semester, we had the regular big Beneficence Dialogue, and when I was there, we had our five or six topics like we usually have, and I was at the LGBT table, and all three locations I was with people who were not themselves LGBT, who did not have close friends who were LGBT, so they literally had nothing to say,” Fant said. “Turns out, that was the same for most of the tables. So really, we weren’t attracting — I don’t want to say the right people, obviously — but the people who it affects to the major Beneficence Dialogue.”

Realizing target audiences should be in attendance, Fant, as SGA’s secretary of diversity and member of Ball State’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion, worked to create this year’s more focused dialogues.

Beneficence Dialogues don’t end with the discussion that takes place during the time allotted, though. Student feedback is recorded during the event and then shared with university administration and SGA. 

Some campus initiatives that resulted as part of past Beneficence Dialogues include next year’s gender-inclusive housing pilot, the REACH peer mentoring program and the diversity statement added to syllabi in fall 2018, said associate vice president for student affairs and enrollment services Ro Anne Royer Engle.

Engle, who is also the former director of the Multicultural Center, said potential renovations for the center may come up as a topic during the Beneficence Dialogue on diversity in the classroom.

During the last Dialogue about LGBT issues on campus, Engle said the idea of incorporating a space dedicated to serving LGBT students within the Multicultural Center was also discussed, and might carry over to the new Dialogue.

Evette Simmons-Reed, an applied behavior analysis professor at Ball State, said the theme of disability education and awareness will be important in order to have students and administration better understand how to support students who are disabled.

“As a woman, as an African-American, I do identify with those cultures, but I’m also a person who is totally blind, and that impacts how I do things on a daily basis,” Simmons-Reed said. “So making sure people are sensitive and are aware of the needs of, and know how to support the people around them, helps us all support each other in being successful.” 

Contact Sara Barker with comments at slbarker3@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @sarabarker326.