While many students, faculty, and staff may recognize the faces around them as they walk around campus, how well do they actually know each other? Apart from a name or a title, what are these people to each other? Each person has their own story, and a group of faculty and staff has come together to help others get these stories out and provide a way for people on campus to interact who normally would not.

“You leave your campus status at the door,” Library Systems Specialist Jami Powell said.

These lunches were initiated by Rodmon King of the Diversity Office so staff could get together to talk about timely affairs. Director for Corporate and Foundation Relations Elizabeth Graves also had a hand in starting these lunches.

We got together informally and wanted it to be consistent,” Powell said.

A number of the staff felt they did not know many of their fellow colleagues.

“They don’t feel as connected to the campus community, and we want to change that,” Powell said.

“Beloved Community” is not a new phrase, but one that originated with Josiah Royce in the early 1900s. It then became popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who believed that nonviolence was the ideal way to go about communicating with others. Conflict was not put aside, but addressed as an unavoidable part of being human.

Put another way, these lunches are intended to provide a space where people from the community can come together and learn a little bit more about each other, and share in the ways the people in the community are all connected.

“It’s a place to get to know each other by sharing stories,” Powell said.

It’s stressed that these lunches are not political and do not have much of an agenda, but are open to all who want to take part. Activities for the lunches will sometimes be planned, with ideas in the works with topics such as explaining how people received their name or what brought them to where they are today.

Since the time for the lunches is a two hour window, people are encouraged to come and go throughout the meeting, and are asked to bring only themselves and their lunch.

The lunches have only just begun, but there are plans to keep them going as long as people attend them, and it is not something people have to constantly attend, but can show up on whichever days they wish.

“Ideally, we don’t want to have anyone in charge, but a place to come and go,” Powell said.

The lunches will take place Tuesdays during Common Hour from 11:30-1:30 in the Campus Center Room 201.

“The only prerequisite to come is you’re a human being,” Powell said.


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