Our tag-line is “Breaking Barriers and Enabling Change Through Dialogue”. Every February, we bring groups of ten to twelve Bowdoin students together to discuss the good and bad about how their identity influences their Bowdoin experiences. In other words, what does it mean to be a soccer player at Bowdoin? Chem-free? From Memphis? Bisexual? Jewish? Latina? Receive financial aid? Our prompts are intentionally open to allow for each group to discuss the topics that matter the most to them. We rewrite our discussion guide each year, meaning you can participate again and again and have a new experience each time. The groups discuss openly discuss perspectives and personal experiences and consider the positives and the negatives of how identity manifests itself at Bowdoin. These dialogues are a release, they’re eye-opening, they’re intimate — it’s a powerful, barrier-breaking experience.
However, while we believe there’s a lot of good that comes from talking, discussion alone is not enough. That’s why the last session and a half is dedicated to generating action strategies that could address specific problems found by the group. Each group prepares a short report with their findings. The steering committee and interested participants compile these into a document to present to student leaders, faculty, and the administration. In the remaining months of the school year and during the following fall, we work to implement key suggestions — the enabling change part of our promise.
Although we present to administrators, this initiative is entirely student-run. The Undiscussed grew out of a 2008 independent study by Alyssa Chen on sustained dialogue circles at other universities, and former participants have been running it ever since. Student facilitators lead the groups each February. The next fall, the steering committee looks at last year’s results, builds a new discussion guide, recruits and trains facilitators, organizes the logistics for the next spring dialogue circles, and plans how to disseminate and implement findings. Have questions, want to use the discussion format in your own campus organization, or want to get involved? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This spring, we are tackling three related questions: How do the choices we make affect our own identity? How are the choices that we make perceived by others? How do these individual choices affect our community? SIGN UP NOW!!!
Want to know more? Orient articles are linked below.
2008 Editorial by founder Alyssa Chen describing her group’s experience and the significance of the Undiscussed