BY LAYLA KELLOGG, STAFF WRITER
Students and faculty came together Thursday for the first BU Dialogue of the year to discuss disabilities and how to further take actions and use language that promotes inclusion.
The Office of Identity and Inclusion invited Stacy Shipman — who has worked at the VA hospital as a therapist for those with post-traumatic stress disorder — to speak. Shipman has worked with people with disabilities and also has family members who are disabled.
“Identities can’t be flattened into a singular expression,” Shipman said.
Her presentation focused on the various models used to explain disabilities, a brief explanation of how people with disabilities have been viewed throughout history and information on how to use language appropriately when speaking and writing about people who are disabled.
Shipman said that the best way to talk about the subject is to use people-first language. For instance, saying ‘a person with a disability’ rather than ‘a disabled person.’
“In your professional life, challenge the way people use language,” said Shipman.
Tamekka Cornelius, director of the office of identity and inclusion, organized several events the week of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to celebrate and remember what he stood for.
“Although this dialogue was not specifically focused on MLK,” Cornelius said, “his whole premise is being concerned with the justice of all people, not just one group. It’s not always about black or white and protests, but focusing on all groups.”
Cornelius said the goal of these dialogues is to promote change, understanding and awareness. “One of the most basic things we can do is engage in conversation with each other,” said Cornelius.
The BU Dialogues are open events and anyone is welcome.
“People are afraid of saying the wrong thing,” said Cornelius. “This is a safe space where you can make mistakes.”
The Dialogues are one hour every month. They offer a platform for people to share different opinions and not be judged, Cornelius said. Students, faculty and staff attended the first dialogue of the semester on Jan. 19.
“It’s a chance to speak freely and to get out of our comfort zones and make campus a more understanding place,” said Charisse Levine, a professor in Bellarmine’s School of Communication.
The BU Dialogues will feature a new topic each month related to inclusion and social justice. There is a calendar outlining the events on the student affairs web site.
“The dialogue I attended confirmed to me that we as faculty have as much to learn from students’ perspectives as they do hearing from us,” Levine said.