The University of Washington Bothell is one of many schools nationwide hosting events recognizing Veterans Day, which is Nov. 11.
From 2-3:30 p.m. on Nov. 7, campus student group Social Justice Organizers (SJO) will put on an event recognizing the national holiday. Part of its Dine-n-Dialogue series, which fosters discussions on various subjects of interest over food, the November program looks to start a conversation about and with veterans on and off campus, the stereotypes that often affect them and more.
“I know for me personally, when I started school here, I didn’t realize that I had classes with veterans,” SJO member and event co-facilitator Gurleen Mann said. “I want other students on campus to realize that we do have classes with veterans and we should get to know them more and become friends with them — treat them how we would treat our friends.”
In addition to breaking down stereotypes around veterans and becoming more familiar with them, prior to the event, Mann had hopes the Dine-n-Dialogue get together would also start a dialogue on transition. She noted that one of the things affecting veterans is having to shift from military to civilian life — something that, in many ways, is a universality.
“There are different types of transitions and different people go through different types of transitions,” Mann said. “We felt like regular university students could relate to that.”
SJO was founded in fall 2014 with the intent to give student leaders an avenue to help tangibly foster a diverse and inclusive community on the UW Bothell campus. Although “social justice” is in the title, the group seeks to put on events covering a wide variety of additional topics important to students, like sexuality, race, power and more.
Mann said when the Dine-n-Dialogue series first started, the group intended to provide students with an opportunity to have a productive conversation around relevant and impactful topics.
“We didn’t want to do something around debates — [those are] more you going at each other,” Mann said. “We wanted to have an open and safe space to talk about issues that are concerning them.”
The Veterans Day-centric Dine-n-Dialogue event is the first of two events this month under the series moniker. The next one, set for Nov. 21, is called the Thanksgiving Tea. It will be emphasizing what really happened during the first Thanksgiving and how it relates to colonization today.
Ultimately, Mann said, event series like the Dine-n-Dialogue program have an effect no matter how many students it impacts in the moment.
“It’s important just to raise awareness on certain issues,” she said. “Even if it’s one student, what can we do to help them?”