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Two Georgia Southern students gave a presentation at the open forum on Wednesday regarding inclusiveness. 

STATESBORO At Courageous Conversations, held on Wednesday, Dec. 4 in the Russell Union ballroom, two leaders at the Office of Multicultural Affairs held an educational presentation on inclusiveness. 

Takeshia Brown and Maurice Nelson shared their passion and understanding for this topic to a room full of people. Brown is the director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Nelson is the student services soordinator for the OMA. 

“Every one of us comes into this conversation at different levels,” Nelson said. “Different levels of experiences, different understandings about topics, different education levels. I mean so many different levels and it’s okay.” 

The education portion of the meeting went through an assortment of topics such as the attendee’s hopes and fears, diversity, competence and privileges. The presenters allowed the public to speak on these topics and their personal experiences. 

Earlier this year, a group of Georgia Southern students burnt books in response to comments made at an author’s book discussion for an FYE class. Additionally, a video that supported white supremacy was created by a GS student for a class presentation at the Armstrong campus this past November. 

Several attendees brought up the recent events that have taken place at GS and questioned how the University plans to fix it. According to the presenters, plans are in the works, and this meeting was just the beginning to fixing the problems. 

For now, educating the people of Statesboro is the first step in the right direction. Dr. Stacy Smallwood from the College of Public Health discussed how there are other groups off campus that can also help with these issues that have been seen on campus. 

“I want you also to know that you, as students, are not in this alone,” Smallwood said. “The same types of conversations that you are having in this room right now, there are a number of community organizations right here in Statesboro that are committed to doing the same work and we do not have to work in silos.” 

After the meeting, some of the attendees expressed their thoughts on the meeting and the discussions that occurred. Ressie Fuller is a Statesboro community member that felt that incidents like these cause far greater issues.

“We should educate each other and learn the right way to deal with things, but to me there were two incidences on this campus over the past couple of months,” Fuller said. “One being the book burning and one being this young white supremist who posted all over Facebook. To me, those things are urgent because we know what climate we are living in. People are shooting up universities and shooting up elementary schools. If you look back, those people who are doing these things had these kinds of backgrounds who, you know, are angry, hurt... whatever they are and have guns. And that kind of violence, we don't need in need in this community.” 

There will be a follow up meetings in Feb. and March where more information about these topics will be presented. 

Gabrielle Dieterich, The George-Anne Contributor, gaeditor@georgiasouthern.edu

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