Resident Assistants see decline in attendance to ICCF meetings

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Resident Assistants continue to see poor attendance after only two years of Intercultural Community Conversation Facilitator (ICCF) meetings with first-year students.

ICCF was formed by the Intercultural Life Committee in 2014 in hopes of prompting first-years with important conversations about race, sexuality, discrimination and any current events on campus.

Attendance was high for the first meetings for both fall 2014 and 2015, but in both years attendance fell to less than 50 percent by the second meeting, according to first-year resident assistant and junior Odessa Fernandez. By the last meeting, only a few students were in attendance.

“Those were so awkward,” said first-year Elizabeth Horner. “Their intention was pure but at that point we didn't know all the girls on our floor so people weren't comfortable opening up about racial issues and unfairness they felt on campus. It was pretty ineffective for trying to bridge racial gaps and build relationships. I went to the first one then never went back.”

Another Resident Assistant, junior Mackenzie Sikora, explains that it is difficult to get first-years to show up to any meeting that isn’t mandatory.

“The first meeting, tons of people showed up because we made it seem like it was required,” Sikora explained over the phone on Thursday. “We had some what of a dialogue, but then every meeting after that was pretty much dead.”

Sikora attributes the lack of further attendance to a mismarketing of the meetings and the fact that students need constant rewards for participation.

“I think part of it was because people didn't know what it was about. Students didn't know what ICCF was,” Sikora said. “If [students] are looking to do something, they're looking to get class credit, or a free meal, or a connection for an internship, especially for a DePauw student because that’s what we've been conditioned to think. Students don’t always take time out of our day to have a meaningful conversation and reflect.”

Besides the lack of tangible incentive, many students are not comfortable or interested in talking about complex issues such as racial discrimination and privilege.

“I feel like some students just weren’t interested in talking about it,” Fernandez said. “You can’t force people to want to address those issues and be knowledgeable about it.”

Regardless of first-years’ interest in the conversations held by ICCF, the meetings create a space where students can feel comfortable discussing any uncomfortable topics.

“I feel like the meetings were helpful, especially for providing a space where first-year communities could come together to talk about issues going on at our campus and in our world,” Fernandez said. “I feel like the meetings made my students aware of feelings other students could be having about various issues that were going on.”

Just this past Sunday, DePauw Student Government representative Kady McKean (’18) proposed transitioning the ICCF meetings from the resident assistant programming to the mentor group programming.