The panel, titled Reaching Across the Aisle, consisted of Delane Smith, a lecturer of criminal justice and associated chair for political science; Arlene Braithwaite, who taught art at SUU for 32 years; and Suzette Sorensen Bulloch, who has experience in government.
Members of the panel had a chance to introduce themselves and talk about their experiences in working with people who have different views.
Smith discussed her experiences while working in law enforcement and her struggles to effectively communicate with people who have opposing viewpoints. She encouraged the audience to do more listening.
“We have to take more upon ourselves,” Smith said. “There (have) been times where I was professional and effective and there (have) been times that I wasn’t, but understanding where I contributed to the breakdown in communication is key to effective communication in the future.”
Braithwaite talked about her time working for newspapers as well for the university as an art professor. She advised those listening to remember that people are making decisions based on the information they have.
“People are not stupid or crazy who don’t agree with you,” she said. “They are making rational decisions based on the information they have.”
Bulloch explained that she grew up with an appreciation for community service and her involvement with 4H had a significant influence in shaping who she is today, along with her experiences in government. She invited the audience to find what they are passionate about and to focus on self-knowledge.
“Without passion you won’t be successful,” Bulloch said. “Develop a sense of engagement and understand your own values, then align yourself with the issue at hand.”