Discussions have purpose. Arguments do as well. Though, they may not always contain substance.

You’ve probably walked away from countless conversations with nothing gained. So, when an opportunity to be a part of a meaningful dialogue presents itself, you should take it.

SUNY Plattsburgh’s Teach-In sessions on Wednesday provided students with the chance to participate in meaningful dialogue with their peers as well as the college’s faculty and staff.

Organizers asked faculty to voluntarily cancel their classes or to allow students to be excused in order to attend these sessions. There were more than a dozen sessions held. Titles of the events included: “The Racial Wealth Gap,” “Locker Room Talk” and “Teaching Social Justice in the Adolescent Pre-Service Classroom.”

Curb your apathy and take the matters that were discussed to heart. These issues should concern us all. Inequality isn’t a theory, it’s documented facts. It’s also a burden for millions of people living in our country. Due to your gender or your skin color, you may have to work twice as hard as others for the same reward. Equality has been a painfully slow process. It took the United States over a century after the Constitution was signed to give women the right to vote.

How long will it take us to finally pay women as much as we pay men for the same work?

In 2015, full-time female workers made 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. Hispanic women made only 58 percent of what white men earned hourly, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Being a white man in this country is like hitting the lotto without even playing. If you’re a man and this sounds all well and good to you, then you’re a part of the problem. Leaving the task of acquiring equal pay isn’t a burden women should be left to deal with alone. Taking part in and advocating for dialogue about these issues is a step toward ensuring social justice.

Learn as much as you can from your peers and those around you. Becoming a more cultured human is going to only help you. Listen to others people’s perspectives, even if you disagree. Further understand an idea, belief or movement before you judge it.

If your response to “Black Lives Matter” is “All Lives Matter,” you’re missing the point. The movement poses an important question upon all of us — Are all people in our country treated equally?

If you answer solely based on your own life experiences, you might say yes, which is why it’s imperative to listen to others’ viewpoints. Don’t assume everyone has lived a life similar to yours. Keep an open mind and help bring social justice to fruition any way that you can.

The conversations we fear having are so often not only significant, but inevitable. Don’t shy away from opportunities that allow you to hear others and let yourself be heard. Every one of us has the power to influence. First with our voice, then with our actions. I’m grateful to be a part of a college that supports events like these because any platform which lets our voice be heard is invaluable.

Email Steve Levy at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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