The Diversity Institute Workshop series began with a two-hour introduction workshop on Sept. 25. The workshop was proctored by Vanessa Greene, the Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) and the Associate Dean of Students, and students Kathleen Muloma and Cherish Joe. It primarily focused on creating a more inclusive environment for students of color. There were faculty members and students in attendance to hear what Greene and her students’ leaders had to say.
One of the main themes was the idea of an implicit bias, also known as implicit social cognition. It refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. What is intriguing about implicit bias is in the unconscious manner with which people think. Instances of individuals crossing the street when someone they deem threatening is walking towards them is an example. It is something that you do without thinking. These tend to be natural actions that do not necessarily stem from racism, but it is troubling that individuals act in this manner.
So what the workshop focused on was looking at examples of implicit bias and trying to get people, specifically leaders, to recognize and help others. These include people who do not have a full grasp of what their words and actions do to others. Essentially the goal is to be more aware of their surroundings and be more sensitive to others. The attendees completed identity wheels, where they could identify certain parts of their explicit identity. Some individuals shared a little bit of their identity, and it was interesting to see differences but also similarities in people, even as minute as where they were born.
The group also briefly discussed LGBT acceptance in Holland versus in Saugatuck, growing up Protestant or Catholic, etc. Even the presenters shared a lot of their experiences, both in presentation and small-group conversation. This session of the Diversity workshop is only part one of a series focusing on developing a more inclusive community. The Hope community has been strengthened with diversity and the work of many, including Greene, her students, and others. Later in the week, The Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), and the Men’s Empowerment Network (MEN) hosted their first ever Nike day.
These two events go hand in hand because they both promote diversity and inclusion. The workshop is centered on the ideas of creating an environment for unity and diversity. Greene wants more students to get involved because change will happen. CDI will continue to welcome and grow in community. Come to a workshop and learn.