March 1, 2002

Diversity Dinner Sparks Dialogue

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The 2nd annual Dinner and Dialogue: Conversations on Diversity event took place yesterday in the Noyes Multipurpose Room. The program began at 5:30 PM with the premiere showing of 101 Stories, a documentary on the Sept. 11 attack. The film was followed by dinner, during which a facilitator at each table led a discussion about current feelings and perceptions about the documentary and Sept. 11.

Students, professors, faculty, and everyone involved in the production of the documentary were invited to the viewing, and were encouraged to engage in dialogue about the topic after its showing.

“[The documentary] really brought me back to that first moment after the attack. Why does it take something tragic like this to bring us all together?” Julie Paige, assistant director of community development asked event attendants after the film.

Susan Moskua, a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, commented that the documentary made her, “think about [the attacks] all over again.” Another student, Shannon Leigeber, agreed and added that the documentary’s purpose, “was to get a lot of different views and it did.”

Steve Stella, Hall Director of Class of ’22 and ’28, explained that the title of the film referred to the 101 stories of the World Trade Center, but also to the fact that over a hundred people were interviewed for the film. Those interviewed included professors, dining hall staff, community members, faculty, Cornell President Hunter R. Rawlings III, and students from almost every College within Cornell.

The film began with approximately four minutes of pictures of the World Trade Center collapse, followed by about an hour and a half of interviews and clips from memorial services. The interviews addressed such topics as initial reactions to the attack, the University’s response, the memorial services at Cornell, the role of the media, racial profiling, attitudes toward the government, and the possibility of racial discrimination against Muslim individuals in the U.S. and Cornell community.

The program was put together by The West Campus Community Development Staff, which includes the Resident Hall Directors of West Campus and the Noyes Program Coordinators. Members of this staff are: Steve Stella, Deb Pawlikowski, Adrienne Cole, Viktor Kerney, Kate Covert, Scott Helfrich, Susan Riley, Andrea Huskie, and Mike Barry.

The Dinner and Dialogue program began last year in response to President Clinton’s request for campuses across the nation to initiate dialogue on race. According to Stella, the Sept. 11 attacks were the obvious choice for this year’s project. Deb Pawlikowski, Resident Hall Director of the Transfer Center, Language House, and Baker Court, explained that the program would have ordinarily taken place in October, but the staff knew they would need much more time for a project of this magnitude. They began interviewing in mid-November and finished just last week.

Stella commented, “Memories do fade, but this video stays with us. Hopefully it will help us look back on all this with clarity.”

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