On Tuesday, March 10, classes will be cancelled so that St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) can hold St. Mary’s Day. According to the SMCM website, the day is “focusing on ‘civil discourse’ and its potential impact on our campus.” The day is being hosted by the Divisions of Inclusive Diversity and Equity and Student Affairs in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Democracy. Classes will be cancelled for the day in order for the campus community to participate more fully in the all-day event.
Speakers have been invited to discuss topics particularly relevant to members of the SMCM community, including understanding what civility means a college campus, the challenges of explicit and implicit bias, and critical literacy with regards to civic responsibilities. The speakers thus far include Dr. Ashley Woodson, the William and Jean Stauffer Faculty Fellow of Education at the University of Missouri–Columbia and Lena Tenney, the Coordinator of Public Engagement for the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. The event is not limited to students, but according to Dr. Tayo Clyburn, Vice President for Inclusion and Diversity at SMCM: “St. Mary’s Day is an intra-community conversation for SMCM students, faculty, and staff. It’s important for us as a ‘class of the whole’ to begin to cultivate a campus environment where we feel more empowered and prepared to engage across lines of difference in constructive ways.”
The motivation for the day centers around the desire for open ideological engagement especially regarding the upcoming election, but also to continue in the future. Currently, St. Mary’s Day is not planned to be an annual event, but Dr. Clyburn states that the topics discussed on St. Mary’s day will continue to be under discussion in the future, saying: “we do intend to find multiple opportunities to continue these conversations among students, faculty, and staff. That may include a St. Mary’s Day, but a single day of learning can’t be the sole vehicle for cultivating an inclusive community – we have to seek other opportunities as well.”
The event promises to be an opportunity to discuss what can often be divisive subjects along with providing tools for handling the matters with sensitivity and amicability. Students who wish to learn more about what St. Mary’s Day means can contact the Division of Inclusive Diversity and Equity at 240-895-2225 or OIDE@smcm.edu.