‘Daring Dialogues’ starts controversial conversations among students

Mercer+students+discuss+gun+rights+in+Knight+Hall+for+the+Daring+Dialogues+program.

Image: Elizabeth Tammi

Mercer students discuss gun rights in Knight Hall for the Daring Dialogues program.

Elizabeth Tammi, Lead Writer

Mercer University senior Catherine Crowe has a clear passion for activism.

Last year, she held a strategic training session open to students entitled ‘Activism 101’. Crowe said she wanted to start a culture of activism on Mercer’s campus, and while a lot of students had passionate opinions, she said she noticed not many had the time to take action on them.

“I wanted to provide people an outlet…and also to ease tensions on campus,” Crowe said.

That was one of the reasons she started Daring Dialogues, a discussion-based program that invites Mercer students of any political affiliation to talk about controversial issues.

“People can come and try to learn from the other side or better understand them,” Crowe said.

As a double major in anthropology and international affairs, Crowe has held two Daring Dialogues. On Nov. 16, she held a discussion about gun rights and violence.

“Both sides learned a lot about the other side’s opinion that they didn’t know before,” she said. “It got people thinking about things they don’t usually think about.”

Earlier in the semester, there was one centered on race, which Crowe said didn’t go as well as she’d hoped.

“People were more hesitant to talk. When people did explain how they felt, the other side wasn’t very receptive,” she said. “I think it’s more personal, which just makes it harder.”

This program ties into Crowe’s research for a class she’s currently enrolled in, Activism and Anthropology, an inaugural independent studies course that she said Mercer professor Natalie Bourdon hopes to make into a recurring course.

Her research project seeks to understand and evaluate Mercer students’ perception of activism and political discussions.

“A lot of Mercer students have opinions, but compared to other campuses, they’re pretty quiet about it,” Crowe said.

The Daring Dialogues program was initially spurred by Crowe, but she was also assisted by students John Williams and Ansleigh Seaver. Crowe will graduate at the end of this semester, but said that Williams has plans to continue Daring Dialogues. For more information on future events, see their Facebook page.