Thursday, May 24
Members of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s New Connections program, which provides resources to scholars and community members from historically disadvantaged backgrounds, is hosting an hour-long Twitter Town-Hall on trauma in higher education on May 24, from 2-3 p.m. entitled “A Discussion on the Trauma of Inequality.”
“We’re coming together to open the conversation up. The ultimate goal is to just get people talking and sharing experiences and resources. We hope the community will come together to link each other to all kinds of hints, tips, and tricks for making sure that higher education does not get perpetuate trauma or get in the way of healing,” said bee coston, assistant professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at VCU who will be co-facilitating the Twitter town hall with Dr. Keisha Bentley-Edwards, director of the Health Equity Working Group at Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and John Kirby, director of the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.
The town hall will focus on addressing the vicarious trauma felt by teachers and professors who are supporting students struggling with trauma, and the traumas and inequality experienced by minority and first-generation scholars in large institutions.
“We want higher education to be a safe place. Not a place where we don’t have tough conversations, but a place where we can have them respectfully, where we can have them safely. I think we need to give both faculty and students the skills they need to be engaging in thoughtful and respectful conversations more,” said Coston. Anyone is welcome to participate in this open discussion, which will be hosted through the personal twitter handles of its co-facilitators at @thisis_drB, @Keisha_Bentley and John_Kirby_MPH, and will use the hashtag #NCtalkstrauma.
“I think that the people who would have an immediate interest in this would be students, faculty, and staff who want to know what to do when hard, violent, and traumatic situations arise, which in the current political climate do arise more and more often,” said Coston. “But I think that the larger community is definitely invited in and would also be interested to learn about the impact of inequality, marginalization, and trauma on learning outcomes and student success, because a lot lot of the structural or systemic inequality students’ experience happens before they get to college, in our communities or in your families.”
More than that, this twitter chat will be a place where people can come to share their stories and be linked to wellness resources. “If people are coming to the town hall to look for personal or individual-level healing and wellness resources, we will have those, too. We have crisis hotline numbers and contact information for different local and national organizations, different toolkit and informational websites where you can go to access free tips,” said Coston.
The facilitators of the town hall have prepared trauma-related questions to guide the conversation and are hoping to engage their audience in better understanding not only how to recognize when students are traumatized, but how to effectively and compassionately respond to it. This includes questions about what trauma looks like (and how it can look different for different people), how trauma and inequality are linked to physical and mental health outcomes, and what a “trauma-informed” practice looks like at work and in daily life.