On Friday, Feb. 19, the third Brave Space meeting was held over Zoom intended to discuss social justice issues among high school students who are looking to broaden their political spectrum and engage in thoughtful dialogue with their peers.
The forum provides a safe space for students to come together in a university-like setting and participate in a mutual conversation, engaging in political topics that are chosen by the Office of Equity and Inclusion Student Senate. Planning for this meeting fell largely on the student body, who had to decide on topics that are pertinent to their classmates, such as language politics, the impact of populism and the George Floyd tragedy.
Director of Faculty Jamal Adams said, “Brave Space is a process that grew after we formed the Office of Equity and Inclusion Student Senate this past summer and built off of the schema we used last spring for our community gathering after the killing of George Floyd.”
The issue draws strong opinions from a diverse demographic whose viewpoint sets the stage for civil dialogue on the issues surrounding race. Participating in a communal discussion exempt from major media outlets, Loyola students thoroughly invest themselves into a conversation that focuses on the well-being of the greater community, subsequently rallying affirmative action that can be employed moving forward.
Senior Yvann Batamack said, “I witnessed the fragility of black existence in America as something that was exemplified by the manner in which the killing was conducted. I saw the great tensions and the growing anger that was stored in the hearts of African Americans, but I also saw potential for hope.”
Whether students are well-informed or newly introduced to the subject of the forum, Brave Space provides an inclusive experience that positively impacts students by broadening sociopolitical outlook or affirming their stance on the topic at hand.
Senior Edward Holly said, “These forums have made me more aware of these issues, and I have become more informed about pertinent issues affecting our political landscape and social justice world.”
The Zoom setting does not deter the students from participating in the discourse either, for the online setting creates a seamless experience that emulates in-person interactions.
Social science teacher Orry Klainman said, “We have seen that students on Zoom can be quite candid and form stronger connections with their classmates during discussions, since they feel the security of being at home even as they talk to others.”
The most recent iteration of Brave Space focused on populism in light of recent national events. With 24 participants in attendance, Holly kicked off the meeting by offering an opening prayer followed by a set of guidelines to maintain the space of sanctity.
Led by Senior Christopher Goodelle, the student leaders introduced the topic and projected a set of questions that would be discussed in the breakout rooms. In each room was designated an OEI leader who drove the conversation with a set of questions regarding the legitimacy of populist movements, the inherent nature of these movements and its consequences.
Senior Gaurav Law said, “Each of us views our reality through a lense built through years of lessons taught and learned, the people we encounter, and our lived experiences. We each enter the space with biases, but each of us volunteered to be here today, and it’s coming from a place of good will.
An immersive experience led through guided conversation, Brave Space shifts their focus to pressing issues that students have in their community and beyond. The purpose of these forums is to create a safe and open place for all to be viewed openly and respectfully. The OEI Student Senate hopes to continue these monthly Brave Spaces, and there will be a likely meeting on Mar. 12.
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