Diversity Dialogues Raise Issues of Women's Rights, Sexual Identity and Individual Freedom

Shirin Saeidi, assistant professor of political science serving as University Housing's Faculty in Residence for the north end of campus, will sponsor a series of talks this academic year addressing several social topics.  

Saeidi planned a series of dialogues with on-campus residential students on topics that include vaccinations, woman's rights, sexual identity and what freedom means. 

The first dialogue of the spring semester had Adam Blehm and Blake Hereth as guest speakers focusing on public health and compulsory vaccinations. Blehm is a doctoral student in philosophy and Hereth is an assistant professor of philosophy. They recently published a paper on the debate surrounding mandatory vaccination. 

Students had the opportunity to participate in the discussion and interact with faculty members throughout the presentation. 

Shirin Saeidi
Shirin Saeidi
Portrait of Andrew Ruegsegger
Andrew Ruegsegger

"My favorite part of the Diversity Dialogue regarding the COVID-19 vaccination was when the differing arguments on mandatory vaccination were presented. Seeing the logic and information behind each side's opinion was rather helpful in formulating my own stance on the subject," said freshman psychology major, Andrew Ruegsegger. 

"That's why I think the Diversity Dialogue sessions are so critical for the student community … understanding the various reasons by which people arrive at their beliefs allows us to form our own educated, moderate and diverse opinions." 

Ruegsegger encourages other students to join the conversation and benefit from the explored areas. Topics he would like to see in future sessions include safety measures for women working in food delivery services, ridesharing, and other jobs where one-on-one interactions are required. 

This series is open to students, faculty and staff. The Diversity Dialogues are a hybrid series where participants can join via Zoom or in-person at Morgan Hall room 108. Student participants also have the chance to win an Amazon gift card for their contribution to the discussion.  

RSVPs to the Diversity Dialogue Series are done through Living Learning Communities' pages on HogSync

Saeidi, organizer of the dialogue series, shares that "the purpose of the Diversity Dialogue is to introduce students to the various forms of inequality and discrimination that exists in our world, and how we can address them collectively."  

She believes conversations about diversity and inclusion are crucial at this moment in time.  

"It is urgent for our students to have access to leading scholars, activists and artists concerned with different aspects of US politics and society. Such conversations will facilitate progressive change and connect us better locally." 

This is Saeidi's second semester as a Faculty in Residence and she continues to bring light to the current issues that contribute to the evolving dynamic of society.   

During Fall 2020, the Diversity Dialogue Series hosted conversations about cultural competence, public discourse, becoming an ally in the fight against racism and the psycho-historical and socioeconomic development of "Latinx" individuals in the United States. 

Diversity Dialogue Topics Spring 2021

All events will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday. 

  • Jan. 27 — Public Health and Compulsory Vaccinations — Adam Blehm and Blake Hereth
  • Feb. 24 — Women's Rights Struggles in the Middle East — Shirin Saeidi
    • Zoom Link | Meeting ID: 891 0695 0663 | Passcode: 9a.XxRH!
  • March 10 — Queer Intersectionality — Anthony Azzun and Samia Ismail
    • Zoom Link | Meeting ID: 556 568 6007 | Passcode: 610863756
  • March 24 — What Does Freedom Mean? — Caree Banton
    • Zoom Link | Meeting ID: 865 4488 7390 | Passcode: 0=&jCsqH
  • April 7 — LGBTQ Campus Support — Toby L. Klein
    • ​​Zoom Link | Meeting ID: 896 4677 3316 | Passcode: N9q?Y*NN

About University Housing. University Housing is a department within the Division of Student Affairs serving a residential community of around 6,200 on-campus students. More than 200 students find employment opportunities with University Housing each year. We offer educational programs that support the success of students and services that help students focus on academics at the University of Arkansas. Living on campus starts with a housing contract

About the Division of Student Affairs. The Division of Student Affairs supports students in pursuing knowledge, earning a degree, finding meaningful careers, exploring diversity, and connecting with the global community. We provide students housing, dining, health care resources, and create innovative programs that educate and inspire. We enhance the University of Arkansas experience and help students succeed, one student at a time. 


Shirin Saeidi, assistant professor
Department of Political Science
479-575-2996, saeidi@uark.edu

Christopher Spencer, assistant director of strategic communications
University Housing
479-575-5084, cjspence@uark.edu


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