For the third time so far this year, last Tuesday Nov. 28, the Student Life office, several different faculty members, and a few students have met to discuss a variety of topics. These meetings are the Wartburg CHATS. CHATS means conversation, help, acceptance, togetherness and support.
During the last meeting Dean Kittle and Rev. Bouzard hosted the event. There are posters up around campus giving information about the chats. Saying that they are safe, and have respectful conversation about topics that matter to you. They also say that there is no commitment, no homework, and no agenda. Students can come with a topic that they would like to discuss or just come and join in on a variety of topic discussions.
Dr. Daniel Kittle, vice president for student life and dean of students, says he cannot take credit for this idea. The idea was generated from a few of his colleagues.
“I think Jennifer Onuigbo the student life office coordinator has really been the champion of this particular initiative,” Kittle said. Kittle said that he was asked to participate and to facilitate the CHATS once they were organized.
Kittle also said that it takes some time to generate discussion, but once the discussion begins it’s a free flowing conversation.
Onuigbo is in charge of planning the events. She sets up the room, does the table tents, and then she along with a few other of her colleagues designed the CHATS.
“Students should come to be a part of a productive, civil conversation even if they don’t have a specific issue in mind that they want to bring to the table, because it affords then the opportunity to share their perspective when important issues come up,” Kittle said.
This past time Rev. Ramona was invited to attend the CHATS so that people would know that they would most likely be talking about around faith, although you can talk about anything. Rev. Bouzard said that she was very pleased to see students willing share things that they think about on the side, but don’t feel like they have a form to talk about it.
“I hope that it opened them up and others in the group to know that they could do that to,” Bouzard said.
Kittle said that each time that they have held the CHATS the groups continue to grow. For many students they come each time, and for others this was their first. Sneha Mahapatra said that this was her first time attending.
“I went because I wanted to learn about different perspective from students and faculty, because you don’t really get the opportunity to do it in a space where they are together,” Mahapatra said.
The next CHAT is scheduled for some time in January.