Saline DEI To Hold Virtual Coffee Hour, Thursday Evening

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The Saline Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force is now a committee and as of October 13, they have just had their first official meeting in their new, permanent form. And they are continuing their attempts to have conversations about local social issues and ensuring that all members of the community are given a voice through a virtual coffee hour, Thursday evening, between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

"We’ve done this before, where we’ve introduced ourselves. We just want to introduce ourselves for people who might be new," DEI Committee Chair Kerstin Woodside said in an interview by phone.

The Committee is still establishing its bylaws, budget, and formal goals. But it is making a concerted effort to introduce themselves to the community with a virtual coffee hour, Thursday, October 14. While the DEI did do these as a task force, this is the first coffee hour it is holding in its new form.

“[We] really just want to give people the space to vent the emotions of what has happened in the community. Especially in the wake of what happened in the school board meetings,” Grace Wu, a member of the DEI Committee, said during the first meeting.

The divisions between parents on trans student policy and the revised Sex Ed policy regarding disabled students has caused a good deal of heightened emotions, especially among parents. But this is not the only subject that attendees can bring up during the coffee hour. When asked about parents who may feel unwelcome at coffee hours like this won, Woodside emphasized that this was not political, but about people.

“These are people’s lives,” Woodside added. “My life isn’t political. My community members’ lives aren’t political.”

The point is also to listen to community members from backgrounds and lifestyles that differ from yours. The whole point, Woodside says, is to educate people on how sections of Saline that you might not often interact with feel about life in this community, to learn from each other.

The organizers are hoping to help people who are unaware of the DEI to explain exactly what the DEI stands for, helps dispel myths, and provides a place where people can air their grievances or concerns in a non-judgmental, educational way. Information about future meetings and programs will also be made available.

Anyone who is interested in attending can do so through the Saline DEI’s Facebook page. The coffee hour is free.

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