In these days when we have become more politically correct, in terms of words, are we missing out on the actions that really make celebrating diversity a beautiful thing for all humanity?

In these days when we have become more politically correct, in terms of words, are we missing out on the actions that really make celebrating diversity a beautiful thing for all humanity?

Many universities have tried to create a politically correct environment by creating diversity committees, but this does not mean the environment is inclusive.  An inclusive workplace is one where people feel valued and respected and have access to every opportunity that is available.  People of Color want to experience the same sense of belonging that the majority group does.

I grappled with this question when Dr. Perry E. Greene, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, started the Diversity Certificate initiative. He invited us to facilitate a workshop that would allow participants to get certified. My colleague, Dr. Pavan Antony and I were asked to lead the workshops on Diversity and Cultural Competence in Higher Education.

I personally wanted to do this because I strongly believe in social justice that includes how people are treated.  Not just when we try to be politically correct, but a real change of minds and ideas about others who do not look like us. I believe that our values and beliefs shape the way we see and treat others.  I wanted to get a feel for what our Adelphi University family values are and how these values could be translated into what we thought and how we treated others who were different.

We met several times to discuss the best way to conduct the workshops and had some apprehensions as to how the workshops would be received. We realized lectures would be boring and ineffective since the workshops are intended for both faculty members and staff. We decided to use real-life case studies of incidents that have happened to either a student, staff or faculty of color. We compiled stories that some of us, or our colleagues experienced in the workplace, or in a classroom.

In the workshops, we discussed our values and how they related to what we bring to the workplace. It is amazing to see that all of us have similar values and are energized to be the best we can be in our workplace.

We also discussed case studies of actual incidents on campus and asked participants to give solutions as to what could make our campus a better place for all.

Some of the questions raised by participants are the same questions that still bothers me:

  • How do you make people who are not accepting of diversity come along and try to accept others?
  • How do we encourage those who are resistant to attend the workshops?

The workshops have been a rich exchange of ideas from the participants who have attended so far. Below are some comments from the participants, taken from the evaluations:

  • “I enjoyed the interactive experiential exercises and case studies.”
  • “This should be mandated…great workshop!”
  • “Excellent first seminar…should be campus-wide!”
  • “I feel very privileged to be a part of this important workshop.”
  • “I really enjoyed meeting and sharing perspectives and thoughts with colleagues from other departments.”

Most participants said, “the workshop should be attended by all at the University.” Others wanted a follow-up workshop on the same issues. All of the participants, so far, agree that this is a great move for our University.

It is my hope many people will attend some of the workshops offered on the various issues relating to diversity.

This article is from the Fall 2016 edition of the FCPE Newsletter.

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