This Week
University of Mississippi Medical Center Publication

The town hall meeting began with University of Mississippi Medical Center students examining their own hearts when it comes to multicultural relations.

One student talked about the difficulty of making friends with students of another race or culture. Another student spoke about feeling isolated as one of a few minorities in her class, and other students talked about stereotypes or misconceptions that build walls.

This “Safe to Relate” town hall meeting April 16 was designed to prompt discussion about multicultural relationships on campus and what can be done to improve them. Peter A. Vogel, former director of worldwide admission and financial aid for Up with People in Denver, Colo., and former director of admissions at Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., moderated the event. He has been doing cross-cultural training for nearly 20 years.

“I think the first step to healing is in honesty, whether it be cross-culturally, cross-ethnically or in relationships with significant others,” Vogel said. “There’s power in recognizing our own brokenness.”

Through clips from popular films, Vogel highlighted some of the issues that divide people, such as race, culture, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. He then asked the audience questions about their personal experiences and the multicultural climate on campus. Several students spoke openly on both topics, and later offered solutions, including better communication, more empathy and getting to know people before making judgments.

Meg Mills, a fourth-year graduate student, said she wished the discussion could have run longer than the two-hour time period.

“I love this cultural interaction. I would love to do this more often to make sure all the voices are heard,” she said.

LePercival Griffin, an M1 student, said he would encourage students to attend similar events in the future.

“It allowed everyone to be open and let everyone discuss how they felt without being harassed,” he said.

— Patrice Sawyer Guilfoyle (4-23-07)