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Let's Talk President Catherine Awad, left, and Let's Talk member Angie Cooke celebrated National Voter Registration Day on UD's Green on Sept. 28.
NEWARK, Del. — After two traumatic events unfolded last September and October, students at the University of Delaware wanted safe spaces to talk about difficult issues. “The awful events that have recently taken place on campus have been making me feel really angry," says Breanna Acosta, a junior at UD. “I have had trouble both emotionally and physically because I'm not quite sure what to do with how I feel, or even what I exactly feel."
Tensions rose on campus in the wake of two headline-grabbing events. On Sept. 29, police arrested several UD students after they confronted protestors from the Key of David Christian Center who held explicitly provocative placards targeting women, gays, and Muslims among others, while shouting “offensive" statements at passersby on the Green. In another incident one week later, police charged a UD sophomore in connection to a violent assault against a female student.
The events led to a wave of protests on UD's campus. Many students were enraged at how UD's administration handled the situations and urged better communication.
UD organizations rallied to support the students following the protests, including the Pride Caucus and Let's Talk. On National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, a Pride Caucus event on the South Green promoted the importance of equality and free speech. According to its mission statement, “The Pride Caucus is committed to fostering and sustaining a welcoming and affirming climate on campus for LGBTQ+ employees, students, families, and visitors." To learn how to get involved, visit the Pride Faculty & Staff Caucus website.
For Blue Hen Re-Coop Day on Oct. 15, UD invited students to come forward to express their feelings and opinions on the handling of the violent assault. Both events promoted discourse among students but acted as a temporary fix for some.
Students who feel that they have more to say can check out Let's Talk, a registered student organization (RSO) at UD. Meetings aim to spark conversations on prevalent issues while providing a safe space for students every Monday at 6:30 p.m. in Ewing 204. “Let's Talk has provided me and the other members of the club the opportunity to share our opinions on prevalent issues on campus in a safe and nonjudgmental environment. Many of our members feel that our campus can be polarized, and this club gives us the opportunity to engage with a diverse array of opinions," said Catherine Awad, Let's Talk President.
Awad, alongside other Let's Talk members, make it a priority to make their meetings a safe place to talk. “The club's executive board and many of the members genuinely created a safe space where discussing very personal details is possible. Sometimes we disagree with each other; however, we respect each other as human beings first," continued Awad.
There are many other resources readily available to all UD students on and off campus. Students who have experienced discrimination or sexual misconduct and would like to discuss it with a trained individual in a confidential setting, can visit University's Office of Equity and Inclusion (udel.edu) for information about the University's non-discrimination and sexual misconduct policies, helpful resources, and instructions on how to report incidents.
To speak confidentially with a licensed counselor or a member of the clergy, students can visit the Center for Counseling & Student Development at Center for Counseling & Student Development | UD Division of Student Life | (udel.edu) . Licensed counselors are available at Student Wellness & Health Promotion (udel.edu) and within pastoral care. For more information on reporting sexual misconduct, including confidential disclosure, visit Reporting | Sexual Misconduct (udel.edu) . For 24-hour crisis assistance and victim advocacy and counseling, visit 24 Hour Help | Sexual Offense Support (S.O.S.) (udel.edu) .
Students can also visit mental health safe haven, Sean's House. The house, located on West Main Street, offers guidance as well as many activities.
Article by Nicole Travis,
University of Delaware senior and intern for the University of Delaware's
Center for Political Communication.
Photo courtesy of Let's Talk member Brooke Meadowcroft.