PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University students, staff and faculty and surrounding communities can discuss equality, diversity, justice and other social issues as part of an effort by the WSU Young Women’s Christian Association to help people overcome prejudice and fear.

Trained facilitators will lead discussions in small group settings across campus beginning this week, said Debi Robinson-Smith, WSU YWCA director. During the diversity dialogues, participants can offer their opinions about racism, homophobia, sexism, religious prejudice and other issues. The discussions will continue throughout the semester and into next year.

“This is an opportunity to explore the differences among us, to open the doors to thoughtful discourse and to work towards both understanding and changing ourselves and our world,” Robinson-Smith said.

The sessions are not necessarily meant to be teaching tools, she added. Rather, the meetings will be used to gather thoughts and perceptions about how the social issues affect individuals and communities. Recommendations gathered from the discussions will be presented at a Racial Justice Conference Jan. 26 at WSU’s Compton Union Building.

The conference, held during a week of celebration for Martin Luther King Jr., is expected to draw nearly 300 participants. While the conference has been held for nearly 20 years, this is the first year for diversity dialogues.

“Our goal is to come up with a plan of action at the conference both for individuals and for the community,” Robinson-Smith said.

For more information or to schedule a dialogue session, contact Robinson-Smith at 509/335-3916.