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Series to explore issues that have sparked protests across the U.S.

By JOHN DELLACONTRADA

Published October 17, 2016

“By bringing the university together in an open and constructive way, we hope the UB community will gain a better understanding of the issues and viewpoints, and will feel better-equipped to discuss them with colleagues, students and friends during the academic year.”
Teresa Miller, vice provost for equity and inclusion

Orlando. Flint. Dallas. Cleveland and Philadelphia. American cities have been focal points for tragedy, protest and heated debate of issues affecting the nation over the past several months.

To encourage discussion of these emotional topics and understanding of different points of view, UB will bring together faculty, staff and students for a weeklong series of midday panel discussions Oct. 24-28.

“DifCon: Our Cities. Our Issues” will explore gun violence, racial inequality, political polarization and other issues that have sparked civil unrest and protest across the U.S. Faculty panelists will set the stage for audience participation by sharing their expertise and insights, and by leading constructive conversations about provocative issues that affect us all.

“Our cities have weathered volatile clashes between citizens, agencies and ideologies,” says Teresa Miller, vice provost for equity and inclusion. “The goal of ‘Our Cities. Our Issues.’ is to bring together the university community to discuss what’s happening across the country and to understand the effect these events have on each of us.”

The weeklong discussions continue last year’s “difficult conversations” series, which examined 12 topics impacting individuals and society. The success of “DifCon 12,” followed by several turbulent events resonating across the nation, prompted a continuation of the conversations at UB, Miller says.

“By bringing the university together in an open and constructive way, we hope the UB community will gain a better understanding of the issues and viewpoints, and will feel better-equipped to discuss them with colleagues, students and friends during the academic year,” she says.

Faculty and staff from across the university and across disciplines will serve as panelists, including faculty from the departments of Transnational Studies, History, Political Science and Economics, as well as faculty from the schools of Law, Nursing, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Architecture and Planning, Public Health and Health Professions and the Graduate School of Education. Staff will participate from the offices of International Education, Sustainability and Campus Living.

The event is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion and the Intercultural & Diversity Center.

The schedule:

SHOOTINGS in MINNEAPOLIS, BATON ROUGE and DALLAS

Oct. 24, noon – 1:30 p.m., Intercultural and Diversity Center (240 Student Union)

Killings in these three cities sparked outrage on both sides of the Blue Line, and in Charlotte and Tulsa since then. This panel will explore police violence, violence against police and the question of how far we’ve come.

TRAGEDY in ORLANDO

Oct. 25, noon – 1:30 p.m., Intercultural and Diversity Center

Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub was the site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Was it violence against the LGBTQ community, an attack on the Latino community, a domestic terrorist attack or all of the above?

NEW HAVEN and HYDE PARK PROTESTS

Oct. 26, noon – 1:30 p.m., 330 Student Union

Student protests at Yale University and a bold letter to the freshman class at the University of Chicago challenged campus communities to consider the relationship between academic freedom, free expression and inclusion.

THE CLEVELAND and PHILADELPHIA CONVENTIONS

Oct. 27, noon – 1:30 p.m., Intercultural and Diversity Center

Both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions raised issues of safety, community and the future of our national identity in an increasingly polarized society. Yet, the platforms couldn’t be any more different.

LEAD THREAT in FLINT — and BUFFALO?

Oct. 28, noon – 1:30 p.m., Intercultural and Diversity Center

Lead discovered in the public water supply prompted calls for accountabili­ty and reform in Flint. Is Buffalo next?