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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Program to spark student dialogue

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October 9, 2019 | Elyssa Gideon | reporter

During Cookout with the Cops Oct. 3 on South Campus, a new initiative was introduced, TOROTalks, which will give students a space to have conversations about controversial topics in an organized setting.

The goal of TOROTalks is to “create a safe space for the courageous conversations that members of the community need to have to heal and shape the world around them,” according to South administrative assistant Shera Terry.

TOROTalks will be a democratic outlet for those in attendance to openly express issues of concern, according to Jeffrey Herr, associate professor of education and philosophy.

“TOROTalks hopes to heal by providing an opportunity for students and staff to join a part of the public sphere that’s close to home,” he said.

The first TOROTalk will be 12:30-2 p.m. Nov. 14 in SETC 1110.

“After we’ve established and evaluated the success of this first event, our aim is to host at least two TOROTalks per semester,” Herr said.

Students spoke with South Campus police Capt. Darren Clark during Cookout with the Cops in 2018 about the need for an improved relationship and understanding between students and the police department.

Conversations led to the creation of a unity summit held in March, where the police department looked at how to improve their relationship with students.

“That successful one-day unity summit ultimately led to the creation of TOROTalks,” Terry said.

The police, school administration and a student had the opportunity to present the idea to the community.

“The attendees then participated in a panel discussion with the district attorney, assistant chiefs from Arlington and Fort Worth police departments, teachers and community activists, where concerns were shared and listened to,” Clark said.

Each event will begin with a short presentation designed to elicit a focal, critical question. One example given is the police captain offering procedures on what to do when one is pulled over by the police.

Although TOROTalks will have a traditional Q&A, it also involves multiple outlets for this conversation, such as poetry or art.

“Spoken word poets deliver original pieces to further provide thematic expressions a presented topic,” Herr said.   

The topic then becomes the prompt for a facilitated conversation, taking place among groups of eight including students, faculty and staff. 

Following this roughly half-hour long small-group conversation, participants will create a visual representation of the conversation.

TOROTalks will offer multiple methods to help the community communicate efficiently.

Local artists will help guide participants in painting their takeaways on nearby canvases.

“The painting portion serves as the culminating activity of a TOROTalk,” Herr said.

TOROTalks hopes to heal by providing an opportunity for students and staff to join in conversations together,  according to Herr.

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