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Conversation Dinner Topics and Questions


October 10, 2016
What do we mean by empathy and community at Vassar?

April 28, 2016
Is intersectionality enough?  Who is accepted by the institution of Vassar?  How do you practice acceptance?  How can free speech and self -expression be used to include or exclude identities (religious practice, racial identity, class position, sexual orientation, etc.) on various platforms?  How are anti-blackness and patriarchy limiting alliance and coalition building at Vassar?

March 31, 2016
Ending Violence... How do we talk about violence on campus?  What does non-violence look like, and what actions can we take at Vassar?

November 17, 2015
What does it mean for you to be a global citizen?  How does one become a global citizen, and why would one want to become one?

October 29, 2015
What have been your experiences with socioeconomic class at Vassar?  Is Vassar divided by class? Why or Why not? What can be done? 

April 23, 2014
What can we do at Vassar to engage differing and opposing voices while holding spaces for open dialogue and social justice?  How can we incorporate love and compassion especially in moments of conflict and disagreement?

April 11, 2013
Who owns Vassar’s Culture?  A conversation about how we perceive, contest and create culture.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 
How do anonymous spaces (including but not limited to postings on the walls of a bathroom stall, SayAnything, and Break the Silence) make you feel in regards to personal safety and identity on campus?  Why are anonymous forums utilized at Vassar?  Does an individual's identity influence the way they interact with these spaces?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
race, privilege, and the killing of Trayvon Martin: 
How have you reacted to the Trayvon Martin case? 

How has your reaction been informed by your understanding of race, crime, justice, and/or activism? 
What are the implications of these issues and themes for Vassar communities?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Social Change, Commitments, Values, and Vassar
How do our backgrounds, identities, lifestyles and experiences shape what we choose to be passionate about on campus and beyond Vassar’s gates?

How do we choose which things we care about?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Exploring Gender, Sexism and Vassar
Is Vassar being preserved as a women’s space, given our history as a college founded for women?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Courageous Conversations:  
Over the past year, the Campus Life Resource Group has sought to encourage serious conversation on a range of topics.  We complete this year's series of discussions by inviting back previous participants, and some new faces, for a conversation about the climate for serious and sustained dialogue on campus. 

Where are the places and spaces where you dare to share your passions and views on local and world issues? Do you have the resources you need to engage such issues? Which ones do you engage? Which ones get left out? What have your experiences at Vassar taught you about what enables and what stifles conversations where people take risks? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Identity and Community 
Are we one community or many small communities?  In what way do or don't we show our sense of being a collective Vassar community?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010 

Liberalism: the Unspoken Religion at Vassar?
It is frequently said that Vassar is a liberal campus; some have even suggested that this perceived liberalism has certain religious elements.  What do we mean when we call ourselves liberal? What are the contexts in which other positions are afforded or not afforded space for dialogue on campus?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Not at Vassar?
Reflecting on the recent invasion of privacy and ensuing suicide of a LGBTQ student at Rutgers University, some have made comments such as, “That wouldn’t happen here; our college is more tolerant and accepting than other colleges and universities.”  Is this accurate?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Thinking Social Justice
Several comments received on All College Day suggested that the event did not address a particular incident.  Given the perennial quality of recent incidents on campus regarding insensitive advertising, do you think that this signals a need to rethink the way in which we address such issues?  What would that be?  How can we create and sustain an environment that ensures justice to and supports the needs of all members of our campus community?

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Safe Space, Safety, Community and Home at Vassar
How do we interpret safety and safe spaces on campus?  What does safe space mean to you?  How do our concerns about safety affect the surrounding community?  And, if home is defined as a place where one feels safe, secure and comfortable, for whom is Vassar a home?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
ETHOS is: the fundamental character or spirit of a culture, the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a community.
Given the prevailing customs, dialogues and practices on campus, what is Vassar’s ethos?  Is community reflected in it?  How has it changed or evolved?

Thursday, April 23, 2009
The Year in Review
What are some of the major events that have impacted you inside and outside of Vassar this past year?  How have some of these events affected your life on campus? How have this year's events shaped your priorities? How has your community changed as a result of these events?

November 20, 2008
SHARED GOVERNANCE is a process by which faculty, students, administrators, and staff participate in significant decisions concerning college life.  What does this mean at Vassar?  What is the role of faculty, students, and staff in shared governance? In what ways does shared governance impact student and campus life at Vassar?  Do you think the system of shared governance is effective at Vassar?

October 14, 2008
Financial Aid, Access, and Socioeconomic Diversity at Vassar
What are the hidden costs in attending Vassar?  What are the benefits of socioeconomic diversity and Vassar’s new need-blind policy?  Are we effective as an institution in disseminating information to prospective students and others about financial aid and access?

April 10, 2008
Transparency and Accountability
A conversation about community at Vassar, and how each of us can play a role in fostering a campus climate that reflects Vassar’s values of excellence and inclusion in all facets of campus life.  Discussion topics will include issues such as communal values, community responses to recent bias incidents and vandalism, and examining how to communicate concerns to the campus community.  We want to hear your voice and point of view.

November 28, 2007
Breaking the Cycle: Seeing Patterns in Isolated Incidents
In recent years, several hateful symbols or messages have negatively impacted the campus community.  This conversation will focus on proactive ways to address campus climate issues.

October 30, 2007
Alcohol and Drugs at Vassar: The Impact on Self and Community

February 28, 2007
ALL COLLEGE DAY MURAL PROJECT.  Since its inception, the All College Day Mural Project has been the focus of much campus discussion.  This Conversation Dinner will focus on mural themes, along with questions regarding whether the mural is an effective medium for engagement, dialogue and exchange of ideas.
The mural will remain in the College Center until Monday and will also be available for viewing in the Aula during the Conversation Dinner.  Come before 5pm to preview the mural.

November 6, 2006
Vassar’s Campus Calendar: Events Overload?  How does the amount of activities and events at Vassar affect you?  What impact do conflicting events have on your schedule, relationships, and on the Vassar community?  Are there ways that the events bring the community together and/or pull us apart?  Does everyone at Vassar have equal access to attend?  If you were to imagine activities and events happening differently, what would that look like?

October 10, 2006
Inclusion @ Vassar.  What does inclusion mean to you?  When thinking about inclusion at Vassar, where have we been and where are we going?

April 25, 2006
Free Speech and the Vassar Community…How do we value both free speech and build a diverse community?  Should there be limits to speech?  Is there a role for anonymous speech at Vassar?  How does a community define offensive speech?  What are the forums for dialogues when there are differing ideological perspectives?

April 5, 2006
“Beyond the Gate:  Vassar and Poughkeepsie”

November 30, 2005
Vassar and the Community…What attracted you to this Conversation Dinner?  What defines and shapes the Vassar community? What is meant when we say community?  What relevance would there be in talking about “Vassar and the Community” on All College Day?

November 7, 2005
Vassar and the Community…What attracted you to this Conversation Dinner?  What defines and shapes the Vassar community? What is meant when we say community?  What relevance would there be in talking about “Vassar and the Community” on All College Day?

April 11, 2005
During the February 23 All College Day we received many insightful written comments about “Finding Common Ground at Vassar.”  We would like to share some of these comments—and invite you to participate in this follow-up conversation with other students, faculty, staff and administrators.

November 3, 2004
The Day After: 2004 Presidential Election.  The 2004 Presidential Election is projected to be a close race.  Were the issues, as framed in the debates and through media coverage, ones that resonate with you?  What impact might the election results have on the nation?  The campus community?

October 7, 2004
What makes campus life and campus community at Vassar?  Share your reflections and reactions on the quality of life and community at Vassar.  Are there topics you would like to suggest for campus dialogue?  Are there concerns you would like to see raised?  Members of the Campus Life Resource Group will share plans for the coming year and invite your feedback on how to continue the dialogue.

April 22, 2004
Talking about Race……

April 8, 2004
Talking about Race…..

November 19, 2003
Some have said that when and if we talk about race at Vassar, it’s on a very polite level.  If this is true, how can we create spaces for honest dialogue around issues of race?  Do we even need to talk about race?

October 29, 2003
How is community—students, staff, faculty, administrator—defined at Vassar?
Is Vassar a ‘gated’ community?

April 23, 2003
What are the effects of national and world events on you and the campus community?

November 12, 2002
What does inclusion mean to you?
How would you envision a more inclusive campus?
What steps can individuals and groups take to reach a higher level of inclusion within the Vassar Community?

October 1, 2002
Which securities are you willing to give up for civil liberties?
How much privacy do you expect/demand?
How much privacy are you willing to give up for safety?
What freedoms or securities are you willing to give up when there is potential for war or actual war?
What do you consider risks to your security nationwide?
What safety concerns do you see on campus?
(Questions developed by Cushing House residents)

April 22, 2002
Over the last two years, several events such as All College Day were planned to stimulate discussion on campus.  At the heart of these discussions has been one central question:  What can we do to improve the Campus Community?  We would like to encourage many conversations tonight---inclusive of all communities/groups/perspectives within the larger Vassar community.

November 15, 2001
We hope that you enjoy this opportunity to talk with others within the campus community.  There are no set questions or topics, but we encourage you to share your thoughts or observations about Vassar as a place where we study, live and work.

October 3, 2001
How is the Vassar Community responding to the recent terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon?
How have these events affected you personally within the Vassar Community?
Where do we go from here---as a community?
(Questions developed by Raymond House residents)