Monday, November 23, 2020

UM’s Inaugural Longest Table Event Engages Conversations of Campus Diversity

By Marissa McCardell
Hottytoddy.com intern
mkmccard@go.olemiss.edu

University of Mississippi students gather in the Grove to eat and also to help envision a stronger university as part of the first-ever Longest Table event. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The University of Mississippi hosted an afternoon of togetherness and conversation to embrace campus diversity at “The Longest Table” on Sunday, Oct. 27. The inaugural event took place in the Grove.

The Longest Table was a free university event that included 50 tables stretched 400 feet across the Grove. This event was designed to bring fellow UM students, staff and faculty together to create connections while eating dinner. The one continuous table displayed in the Grove welcomed parents and allowed for attendees to sit where they please.

To begin the meal, Chancellor Glenn Boyce addressed the crowd during one of his first appearances on campus. 

“I think this did have a positive impact because the whole point of the event was to come together and put our differences aside to hear each other out, whether they believe the same things you do or not,” said sophomore Lily Sweet King.

King said she started The Longest Table after organizing the event for 10 high schools in her county. Now that she brought it to Ole Miss, she said she hopes the positive outcomes from the event continue to bloom. 

“I wanted to bring it to Ole Miss because I feel like it’s a great event for students. The purpose is to come together by understanding one another by breaking down barriers and combatting divisiveness,” King said.

King said she values being a part of a university that fosters developing conversations about diversity.

“I think events like this are extremely important, especially in a place like a college campus where there are so many people who are different from one another,” she said. “Conflict is resolved when we come together for conversation and are willing to listen to each other.”

According to King, more than 300 people attended the dinner. This event was sponsored by multiple campus organizations, including the Diversity of Community Engagement office.

University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce addresses the crowd gathered for the Longest Table, which is designed to bring together students, faculty and staff to help envision a stronger UM. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

“I definitely want to do this again. So does the Diversity of Community Engagement office as well as the chancellor. It was enjoyed by many students and gave them an opportunity to voice their thoughts, beliefs, and ideas,” King said. “I feel that a lot of the time students don’t have a voice so it’s nice when you get to sit down with people who truly care about what you have to say and offer.”

The conversations that were started at dinner, sparked ideas and opinions from students and faculty, in hopes of becoming reality on the Ole Miss campus.

“I enjoyed this event because now I feel better connected to the people on the campus. And it was a great idea for everyone to sit at one long table,” said Ole Miss student Sydney Stephen.

The Longest Table Event is set to take place again next year, but no specific date has been determined.

To keep up with the events happening here at Ole Miss, visit the events page on the University of Mississippi website (events.olemiss.edu).