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Diversity through dining

A new Bradley organization has been created to provide cross-cultural communication on campus.

The Dinner Club will be opening the conversation about culture and diversity. Norris Chase, executive director of The Office Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), said the program will be a forum for students to come and learn about pressing social topics.

“[The] Dinner Club is a pilot program that aims to help students’ dialogue across differences through semi-structured, multiple-week facilitated dialogues,” Chase said.

All students are encouraged to meet weekly to express their thoughts and share food. Chase’s goal for the meetings is to provide Bradley’s student body with cultural opportunities they might not otherwise experience.

“In today’s world, this type of communication doesn’t happen often,” Chase said. “This program is essential to Bradley because it will encourage cross-cultural connections between students from different backgrounds.”

ODI’s mission is to create a campus culture that is supportive and accepting of diversity. Many organizers of Dinner Club said they feel the program will be helpful in achieving this vision.

“Bradley students that [come] from different backgrounds [will] come together and tackle important topics that we often overlook in the classroom,” Briana Mathews, a senior psychology major, said. “We rush past conversations that deal with social identities and how it connects with our society. The Dinner Club magnifies these identities and highlights personal experiences.”

Mathews, one of the leaders of Dinner Club, said she would love to see the program bring openness and friendship to campus in addition to social change.

“I hope that students that enter the program develop relationships with someone that looks completely different from them, that they feel confident to become an ally and they continue these conversations with their friend groups,” Mathews said.

Monique Funches, senior chemistry major, said she also has large aspirations for Dinner Club.

“We [aim to] successfully provide an open space for students of all backgrounds to engage in cross-cultural interactions and to discuss diversity and inclusion,” Funches said. “I also hope that participants will develop awareness around systems of oppression and privilege.”

The Dinner Club will meet from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. every Monday in the Garrett Cultural Center until March 6. Chase and his students said they want to see a wide array of students at these meetings and hope to see this become a permanent installation here at Bradley.

“With this being my last semester at Bradley, I hope to see The Dinner Club last forever,” Mathews said. “[I hope] each new set of Bradley students step out their comfort zone and take part in the conversations that are necessary.”

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