Mays Speaks Critical Dialogue Series

Mays Speaks is a critical dialogue series hosted by the Mays Office of Diversity and Inclusion that seeks to educate participants on ways to respond to acts of bias in a manner that invites dialogue rather than anger. The objective of these monthly forums is to raise consciousness of faculty, staff and students concerning biases in the areas of race, culture, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc. These 60- to 90-minute sessions will be followed by a mixer where Mays faculty, students and staff can continue to break down barriers over polite interaction, reflection and refreshments.

Jan. 31, 2017

Mays hosted a session on Jan. 30 as a part of the Mays Speaks: Transforming Leaders through Inclusion series. The dialogue focused on increasing the awareness of current and future leaders on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace. A panel spoke with an audience of about 35 people. On the panel were:

  • Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation;
  • Chad Mandala, program coordinator of the Texas A&M GLBT Center;
  • Don Turilli ’99, director of internal audit at Francesca’s;
  • Emma Griffin ’10, IT Sox Compliance specialist at NuStar Energy;
  • Dustin Ruffato, SW Region Inclusiveness & Flexibility Leader of EY

The panelists urged prospective employers to assemble applicant pools that are reflective of their population they are serving, and prospective employees to research the values of the company they are pursuing by exploring their websites, contacting current employees and seeing if the company is ranked on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2017 Corporate Equality Index – the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

They also encouraged attendees to go through Aggie Allies training, which prepares staff, faculty and students at Texas A&M to provide a safe haven, a listening ear and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people or anyone dealing with sexual orientation issues. Those who complete the training receive an Ally placard to place outside their office or residence hall room.

That evening, several Mays students attended “Conspirare: Considering Matthew Shepherd” at MSC OPAS as a professional development event. Mays was a sponsor of the event that depicted the life and impact of Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured and left to die near Laramie, Wyo., on the night of Oct. 6, 1998.

– “I feel like this experience was more than just a chance to enjoy brilliantly composed live music, it was a session where I was invited to listen to new ideas, and be exposed to a tragic story I had never heard of.”

 – “I could feel the grief of the people on stage and the emotions conveyed through the combination of dialogue and music.”

 – “I was not really sure what to expect from the performance of Conspirare: Considering Matthew Shepard, but the experience as a whole was simply stunning. The entire performance was incredibly beautiful, profound and left me feeling impacted by the story of a boy whose life was taken much too soon many years ago.”

– “The musical took an event that many people heard about in the news and forced the audience to ask the question, “In all this mess, is there love?” It was horrifying to see the events of such a barbaric death, but it was also humbling. It reinforced the mindset that no matter what you believe, we must be able to love one another.”