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One America - Diversity Roundtables

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One America

Program: Diversity Roundtables, Pittsburgh, PA
Contact(s): Catherine McGraw, Coordinator of Student Development: (412) 268-8553
Purpose: To foster dialogue, present educational programs, and encourage cultural awareness and appreciation through discussion

Background Program Operations Outcomes


The Diversity Roundtables began in 1996 to provide a forum for college students at Carnegie Mellon University to openly discuss and debate selected diversity issues in an informal and personal setting. It was started by a staff member in the school's Division of Students Affairs to provide a discussion group allowing people from all different backgrounds to come together and discuss life on campus and in the community. The Diversity Roundtables is different from student organizations in that it does not require student membership.

Program Operations

The Diversity Roundtables are held once a month in a residence hall conference room. The program consists of a dinner and discussion group that provides students with a way to discuss diversity in a non-threatening manner. It allows participants to hear various points of view, and meet students from across the campus. The ideal number of guests for the dinners has been 15 attendees because this allows for open dialogue among all participants. Students help to select topics and make suggestions about guest discussion leaders. The role of the discussion leader is not to provide a speech or lecture, but rather to raise important questions and keep the discussion focused.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

About 5 roundtable discussions are held annually. Topics that have been discussed include: spirituality, body image, defining American values, Hispanic issues on college campuses, and building "One America." The roundtables have been extremely beneficial for the campus because very few students are able to take classes that focus on cultural or gender issues, partly because of Carnegie Mellon University's focus on technology and fine arts.

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