Third CAS Upstander Dialogue Engages Students in Diversity Talks

Yeho Hwang
CAS hosted its third Upstander Dialogue, led by Dean Gabby Starr.

The College of Arts and Sciences hosted their third Upstander Dialogue on Wednesday evening, facilitating a discussion on diversity through the lenses of academics both humanities and science-based.

Keynote speakers included CAS Dean Gabrielle Starr and postdoctoral associate in neuroscience Amy Belfi. They were joined by eight student co-facilitators from the Academic Achievement Program and the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs.

The goal of Wednesday’s Upstander dialogue was to create a space for discussing diversity of experience, whether in classrooms or workspaces. Starr and Belfi began the conversation with personal anecdotes on diversity from their work experiences.

Wednesday’s topic of diversity comes two weeks after the Liberal Studies program hosted an open forum regarding NYU’s approach to diversity. Belfi said the dialogue demonstrated how diversity can benefit research and enriching academic work.

“It’s important to reach out and interact with people who are not like yourself,” Belfi said.

Starr said the university wanted students to see diversity through more than one lens, while creating a space for students to discuss diversity in a positive way.

“Race is an issue that matters very deeply, but the conversations have been really hard to have,” Starr said. “Are there ways that can be talked about the value without always having to return to the same lexicon?”

The Upstander initiative began in spring 2015, with one dialogue occurring per semester since. Its main mission is for students to intervene when they encounter situations that may negatively affect their peers. Past dialogues include sexual respect and defining consent, and civic engagement.

“Upstander is coming into contact with your community,” Ciambriello said. “Bystander is someone who is passive. Upstander is prompter engagement.”

The second half of the event focused on student co-facilitators leading discussion groups made up of seven to eight attendees.

One of the eight student co-facilitators was CAS freshman James Goldberg, who said he was invited by Starr after talking to her about the rise of antisemitic violence.

“I thought that I could bring in a new perspective and allow people to see what’s not often seen,” Goldberg said.

As to what being an Upstander means to him, Goldberg said it is about helping those facing injustices.

“Take an active role in trying to fix things,” Goldberg said. “As human beings we have a responsibility for one another and it’s our duty to make sure that we have the same opportunities.”

Wagner graduate student Pam Campos said she felt Wednesday’s Upstander dialogue was one of the first events to bring a diverse group of people together.

“After last year’s diversity conversation, I came to see if the university is expanding on that conversation,” Campos said. “I’m hoping that it can bring more NYU community together.”

Email Yeho Hwang at [email protected]

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