‘Dinner and a Fight’ event promotes open dialogue

Discussions of online learning during Dinner and a Fight allows a variety of opinions to be heard.


Kayla Muro

Dinner and a Fight participants share conversation over a meal to break the ice before controversial prompts.

On Wednesday April 12 Baldwin Wallace University hosted a “Dinner and a Fight” to encourage students and visitors to share their differing opinions and find common ground.  

Dinner and a Fight is an event organized by the non-profit Fighting to Understand, under Executive Director Ted Wetzel, that aims to have open discussions between members of communities, allowing diverse opinions to be heard on hot-button topics.  

 “[Dinner and a Fight] started out of students in need and desire to talk about how to have disarming communication,” said Marsita Ferguson, assistant director of community engagement at BW, “Just regular communication, how to have conversations [and] through differences how we are going to teach the next generation of future leaders how to come together despite their differences.” 

Ferguson said that after attending three Dinner and a Fight events in the community, she decided it would be a good opportunity to bring one to BW.  

The night started in the Student Activity Center where students and other guests were instructed to sit at a table with other individuals they didn’t know. Icebreakers were used at the tables to help aid in conversation, said Mackenzie Blum, a first-year biology major who attended the event.  

“I feel like it got me out of my comfort zone,” Blum said. “I was just going to sit with my friends … but I [sat] at a table of strangers.”          

All the participants then gathered for a full group discussion. Hannah Dodson, head student advisor and facilitator of Dinner and a Fight, read off the prompt: Online learning is as good, or better, than in-person learning.  

Dodson and Wetzel, leading the conversation, noted that this topic has been in question since 1976 when the University of Phoenix pioneered remote learning, but is much more common since Covid-19. They then invited any volunteers from the audience to take a seat labeled strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree and strongly disagree.  

Those that chose to take one of the seats were allowed to share their opinions in one minute and nine second increments. Discussions afterward were held back at the original small groups for more intimate conversation. 

Ferguson said that she hopes to host more Dinner and Fight events around Thanksgiving, knowing that students will be going home and having these conversations with family.  

“If we did it prior to Thanksgiving time, students will know how to have these conversations with their relatives and their families because they’re establishing so much independence here on campus,” Ferguson said.