The Office of the University Registrar built the theme for its annual retreat last November around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Jacqueline Jones LaMon, JD, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, gave a presentation to help the group better understand DEI and to spotlight the need for more inclusivity in our daily life.
The office’s leadership team of Steven Smith, University registrar, and Linda Jean-Louis and Tara Amari ’05, associate registrars, announced at the retreat an initiative to host regular meetings focused on DEI throughout 2021. As a result, the team sets aside time every Friday during the weekly staff meetings to discuss a specific DEI topic.
At these meetings, when the weekly business has concluded, the group watches and then discusses a short video. Some of the videos explain more about DEI itself; some provide information about specific cultural topics; and others are educational talks about aspects of different cultures. Sometimes the video is selected because of the calendar: One meeting fell on Purim, so the video featured actress Mayim Bialik explaining the holiday’s meaning, importance and traditions. Other videos are chosen because of current events, such as a recent video focusing on hate crimes targeting Asian Americans. Videos are also selected as a result of a request by, or question from, a team member, such as a TEDxYouthTalk about the beauty of African hair.
The office has lined up a range of videos about topics such as stereotypes, ableism, white privilege, Islamophobia, gender identity, microagressions, the gender pay gap, police officers discussing race relations, pronouns, confederate statues, the generation gap, access vs. inclusion and many others.
Staff members understand that the office’s leadership team members aren’t experts in these areas, but that everyone is in the same boat, watching together to learn and generate valuable discussion. The goal of this initiative is to inform and educate so that all become more aware of the importance of accepting, appreciating and celebrating diversity, equity and inclusion.