About 150 students packed into the ARC November 18 to learn about charitable discourse, in light of the chapel petition and planned unsuccessful walk out a few weeks ago that created tension between the student body.
This event was a panel moderated by junior Cierra Halle with panelists Assistant Professor of Sociology and Social Work Jimi Valiente-Neighbours, Professor of American Literature Karl Martin, and Associate Professor of Communication Melissa Newman. According to the panelists, charitable discourse is civil, nonviolent communication in which one listens and recognizes the humanity in the other person.
Valiente-Neighbors said that the goal of charitable discourse is to seek to understand the other person and work towards common ground. In order to do so, she suggested being reflexive, empathetic, trying to understand what and who has shaped the other person and their views and then allowing the conversation to continue on at another time.
The students in the audience were given the opportunity to ask questions during the last half of the panel discussion. The questions raised included the concept of having a safe space, what that looks like in a Christian environment, how to navigate conversations that with someone who is not educated about their topic, and how can the student body and professors make sure the school is including minority students.
Newman repeated the advice “All I can control is me” to remind students that they only have the ability to control their reactions and opinions. She also suggested that students seek help from the many resources PLNU offers that could help cultivate a charitable discourse.
Martin touched on tension in Christian spaces that occurs when there are opposing views. He said to remember that you are not Jesus therefore you do not have the responsibility as Jesus to rebuke others. “If I still have a log in my own eye, I don’t know if I can see the spec in my neighbor’s eye,” Martin said.
“Before we can have conversations with people we may disagree with it is important to learn how to have them,” junior nursing major Carly Lugo said.