Diversity Dialogue getting people to talk


Dr. Nick Franco hosts the Diversity Dialogue talk on Jan. 29. Franco asked the panel questions on what they think the proper responses to sexual harassment might be | Andrew Watson for The Easterner

By Katherine Senechal, Reporter

EWU president  Mary Cullinan held a President’s Dialogue on Diversity on Jan. 29 on the Complexity of Addressing Sexual Misconduct.

The aim of these dialogues is to get students and faculty talking, to discuss these hard or uncomfortable topics so individuals can move to improve them.

“The purpose of the President’s Dialogues on Diversity are to bring awareness to current issues onto our campus and to provide education and to highlight issues that are relevant to all of us, all of our lives,” said Dr. Nick Franco, facilitator and Pride Center manager.

“I think we all know someone, whether we know it or not, we know someone who has been impacted by this issue,” said Franco.


Franco opened the dialogue by introducing the topics and giving background for the “#metoo” movement and topics like the Harvey Weinstein scandal and other high profile men being accused of sexual harassment.

After Franco talked about the topics and introduced the panel, Franco asked them questions to engage in this discussion.

The panel consisted of Dr. Elizabeth Kissling, a professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Communication Studies; Brent Borg, an officer of the WA State Department of Corrections; Lindsey Fulton, Health Education Coordinator; and Ashley Jenniges, representing the Associated Students of EWU.

Franco felt they put a lot of thought in their panel and wanted to make sure that they could see more than one side of this topic. Not only with their positions but to have both females and males on the panel.

One of the topics discussed was why it is hard for woman to come out about sexual assault or harassment.

They discussed how when someone does come forward, peoples’ first question is often what the victim might have done to encourage it. What the victim is wearing, if they were dating their assailant, and whether they were sober or not are what is focused on instead of the actual sexual assault/harassment.

“You’re supposed to be sexy but not actually want to have sex, it lowers your credibility. It’s really complicated,” said Dr. Kissling.

The goal of these dialogues is to talk about issues like sexual harassment and the to kneel or not to kneel debate, to open up the conversations about topics that may be uncomfortable or deep. If students and faculty feel they can talk about these topics in these dialogues, it has the potential to open the door for personal conversations outside of these events.

For more information on the Diversity and Inclusion office and their events, go to their “about” page on the EWU website.