Working to lay a foundation for future dialogue and events, Solidarity Cabinet held an open house entitled “Listen” on Thursday, Sept. 20. Solidarity Cabinet member McKenzie Gallagher, said that the posture of listening “is how we really want to open up our year as a cabinet before we jump into the other events.”
Solidarity Chair Jonathan Chen said the event highlighted points where Christians can come into agreement, “[Solidarity] is just educating on how to love people. It’s really important that we educate ourselves on how to love people who are different because that’s really what love is.”
Dr. Cliff Williams gave a talk about listening, stressing its importance and offering practical advice on how to listen well.
These things include maintaining eye contact, uncrossing your legs and avoiding planning your response while the other is still talking.
Students were given the opportunity to add responses to questions posted on the walls of the fireside room including: “What makes you feel heard?,” “What groups aren’t heard enough on campus?” and “What events would you like to see from Solidarity this year?” Koinonia, Willie-O, Unidad, Strongholds and MuKappa each listed things that make them feel heard, displayed with their respective mission statements.
After advising students on their posture, tone of voice and frame of mind, Williams gave students the opportunity to listen to each other. Sophomore Jess Crane attended the event with her roommate. She was surprised at the level of practicality in Williams’ remarks and the active listening the event prompted in her. She reflected, “historical injustice makes it more difficult to listen well, but it also makes it more necessary. People shouldn’t have to seek out safe spaces; people should be bringing safe spaces to other people.”
Chen said that conversations about diversity continue to be especially necessary when practicing Christian love at Wheaton.
“If a community is homogenous and says they are loving but does not consider racial and sexual minorities, that’s not really loving. Love means considering people who are different than you.” Listening and education, Chen added, make love possible.