Dear SWV NOW;
We at NOW believe that all voices are welcome at our meetings; we want to encourage people from all perspectives to bring their concerns. However, that also opens the door for situations in which an opposing viewpoint is heard. Sometimes, although not always, this may lead to a derailment of polite discourse. I regret to say that such an event happened at our last meeting.
I, as president of our chapter, take full responsibility for not vocalizing discussion ground rules beforehand. Ground rules, therefore, will have a permanent place on our agenda. While I don't believe this is a water-tight solution to avoid this sort of event in the future, it will certainly provide grounds to request that those who do not adhere to the guidelines table their comments.
I believe it is important to respond--even to harsh words--with civility and respect, even if that courtesy is not reciprocated. I have faith that engaging in a respectful dialogue is the most beneficial response, and ultimately, represents us more fully as an organization and can lead to both education and awareness.
Thus we are reminded that the message of inclusivity is one that still needs to be sown and nurtured. Our diversity team is working on precisely that, and with that knowledge under our collective belt, we have a better chance of diffusing conflicts swiftly in the future.
We can choose to see last night's example as an unwanted disruption or we can choose to learn from it, adapt our strategies and move forward.
Let's move forward together.