Requests are often made for assistance in facilitating meetings, town halls, forums or other conversations that might involve difficult dialogues. As of the fall of 2020, we are offering educational opportunities for individuals across campus to help facilitate these meetings, and will maintain a list of individuals who have completed this or similar experiences who would be interested in working with other units to facilitate conversations. To learn more about this service, see specifications and guidelines, as well as tips for successful conversations. To access the list of available facilitators, please email Dr. Patti Stewart.

Facilitator Specifications and Guidelines

  • The facilitators are trained in basic facilitation skills and can support your unit in having dialogue:
    • About current events
    • To unpack overt hate and discrimination that happens within your unit
    • Offer resources 
    • To support perspective sharing
    • Engage your department in developing basic dialogue skills, so you can use that foundation to have critical conversations in the future
    • Additionally they can share general, foundational awareness of  systemic oppression AND offer dialogue around basic identity consciousness, and how identity impacts our own views and the views of our environments
  • Facilitators are not:
    • Content experts
    • “Neutral”: to be neutral is to side with the oppressor. We encourage our facilitators to challenge participant comments’ rooted in bias.
  • Requesting someone to facilitate:
    • You are responsible for reaching out to these facilitators yourself
    • We must acknowledge that facilitators are offering this service above and beyond the duties and expectations of their role at the institution. We recommend the minimum pay for compensating each facilitator for their diversity, equity and inclusion work is $100/hour. 
    • Write letter of agreement between facilitators and the unit that includes the amount they are to be paid, the date they can expect the compensation, and the details of the gathering (who the event is for, what they are facilitating, 
    • If you choose to hire a facilitator from this list, the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion is not responsible for outcome(s). If you have questions or concerns, please contact one of the staff in the IDI Education unit (in advance if possible) and we will do our best to assist you . 
    • When reaching out to the facilitators, we recommend reaching out to facilitators who have differing identities. In particular, if you are reaching out to facilitators in response to an act of hate that happened, we encourage you to make sure you have one facilitator who identifies with the group who has been targeted. For example, if you would like to hold a dialogue or town hall on an anti-Black hate crime, you would want to reach out to a Black facilitator. Further, in MSU Dialogues, we also aim to have a co-facilitator who is of the dominant identity, as they are able to speak directly to their experiences learning, unlearning, and taking responsibility for creating change. 
  • As the unit reaching out to facilitators to request their support, you would be prepared to provide the following information:
    • Information about the context and the reasons for holding the dialogue
    • Your goals for the dialogue.
    • Demographic breakdown (race, gender, ability, whether it will be students/faculty/staff) of those who will be in attendance
    • Accessibility needs within the group
  • Formats:
    • Town Hall: For larger groups. The facilitator will serve in a moderator-type of role. The facilitator will encourage individuals to share their perspectives, as would be expected at a town hall. They might also choose to open and close the town hall by naming the reason everyone has been called together. 
    • Dialogue/Conversation: If your group is 20 people or less and you are looking for an interactive format
  • Some facilitators might be content experts in their field. The facilitation rate of pay ($100 per hour, per person) only covers their facilitation, not lecturing or leading a workshop in their area of study/expertise. If you wish to use a content expert, you will need to connect with them individually about consultation services and compensation.
  • The facilitators on this list can and will defer to a content expert when the conversation(s) goes beyond these basic guidelines and calls for a deeper understanding of specific topics or concepts. 

Tips for Successful Conversations: 

  • Always establish participation guidelines. This serves to positively direct the conversation, as well as something to point to if things start getting off track. Here are some basic suggestions.
  • Name things - it is important to use the appropriate language even when it makes us uncomfortable. (example: People often avoid using the term privilege because it can stir feelings of guilt and shame, but to step around acknowledging privilege by not naming it leads to incomplete communication and complicates conversations that work toward a path forward. 
  • Don’t use a town hall or listening session as a platform to promote “all the good things” your unit may be doing. State the purpose of the event and stick to the agenda. (ex. If the purpose is to listen, then listen - and make sure you reiterate what you’ve heard and ask for clarification if necessary.) It is fine to share opportunities and initiatives, but if that is not the stated goal of the session, then ensure that this not the focus of the conversation. 
  • Note about neutrality: Being neutral is actually supporting the position of oppression. This is a great resource on the concept.
  • Be genuine -  this is not the space to over-promise or to try to gloss over issues. When hosting a conversation to acknowledge issues, be ready to be transparent and open to what must be addressed. 
  • Reinforce community if that is a value you/your unit hold/s. If your goal is to bring everyone together around a common purpose or idea, then ensure that this is both clear and inclusive. 
  • Questions about recording - we often get asked if sessions can be recorded to view later. Our recommendation is to avoid this whenever possible for two reasons: 1) people can feel less comfortable to express themselves openly if they know the conversation is being recorded, 2) the option to watch later does not enable the viewer to participate and engage fully, so essentially it becomes a completely different experience by allowing viewers to sit passively and watch. 
  • In the opening and the closing, thank your participants for their time and candor - it takes courage to share openly!