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(From left to right) Lesli Johnson, Rachel Siegel, and Sarah Davis were the facilitators for the Open OHIO event on Tuesday in Baker Center.

Students and administrators meet for first Open OHIO meeting

Student volunteers met on the fifth floor of Baker Center to engage in a variety of critical conversations at Tuesday’s first-ever Open OHIO meeting.

The Open OHIO project intends to facilitate meaningful conversations among both Ohio University students and Athens residents. 

“I think today went pretty well,” Sarah Davis, founder of Open OHIO and an associate professor of ecology and civil discourse, said. “I think it’s going to be a challenge to keep recruiting people. Once there’s a chance for word to spread, it should be easier.”

Davis explained the importance of critical conversation in a dynamic society. She said often times it’s hard to slow down and dedicate time to conversations that are meaningful. 

Davis and her colleagues said students were the reason Open OHIO was created in the first place. After the 2016 presidential election, students felt they didn’t have an outlet to participate in meaningful conversation about current events.

“Conditions in today’s society are not conducive of meaningful dialogue,” Davis said. “Society has changed our way of communicating so much.”

Conversations at Tuesday’s meeting ranged from environmental science and conservation to diversity across OU’s campus. 

“I think for me, it was nice to see a couple different perspectives,” Nathan St. Amour, a graduate student studying computer science, said. “There were people here who were administrators and students.” 

Abbey Rodjom, a graduate student studying environmental science, said Open OHIO is a good place for students to practice saying their ideas, listen to others and come to a conclusion together.

“I think the most important part is to be seeing people with different perspectives,” Rodjom said. “So I would like to see more people with ideas.”

Davis and her fellow facilitators look forward to the expansion of the Open OHIO project and its ability to engage students in conversations that matter. 


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