The Community CAfé Encapsulates Diverse Viewpoints through Debate-less Dialogue. (Flickr)
Over one month ago, the Upper School Student Council hosted a Community CAfé centered around the unnerving events of violence, specifically referring to the Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, as well as discussing the original planned topic of balancing religious holidays during the school year.
This school event took place at 12:50 pm on Monday, October 29, in the Upper School Common Lounge. The time was fruitful in the sharing of different viewpoints regarding both the emotions and solutions to these issues, with valuable discourse and genuine attention to one another’s perspectives: a common theme of the event that Beckett Broh took to the drawing board back in 2013.
It was Broh’s first year at Academy, and several students had begun to share with her their desire for a time and space to discuss some of the pertinent social and political issues affecting the community.
What kickstarted the program was debate over Winter Formal of that year: a Sadie Hawkins dance. Student Council helped plan this forum and through its immediate success, the event provided a springboard for future Community CAfés.
Student Council isn’t the only organization to have planned these events. In the past, groups such as the Conservative Club, Democratic Club, GSA, Journey 511, and various other student bodies have played roles in coordinating the discussions.
In a recent interview with Dr. Broh, she stated that the goal is to allow for “diverse perspectives on a topic and try to understand them.” Listening to others’ views and more importantly, understanding are essential to the purpose of these community meetings. The most important guideline to these events is the “no debate” rule, which allows for an optimal environment in conversing over the different viewpoints.
And of course, a CAfé wouldn’t be a cafe without food.
Broh expressed that the “CAfé model is based on the notion that we often have great conversations over good food like you might have in a cafe.”
Broh is presently working on having these CAfés occurring on a regular basis, such as every 2-3 weeks, and part of this plan of action will be aided by expanding the types of cafes and having the availability of a calendar.
As topics of discussion arise within our school and outside of it on a near-weekly cycle, allowing students to express their diverging outlooks in a debate-free space has become a cornerstone of this institution and is something our student body must continue to cherish.