ASM Working Towards Diversity and UnderstandingPosted: March 13, 2010
I just received an email from Diversity Chair Steven Olikara outlining a new forum that is to be held this week Thursday, the 18th. It details a “pilot” program that will be used to test a new form of student engagement. The email explains it in this way:
This Thursday evening, the Diversity Committee and Wisconsin Union will be holding a Student Leaders Diversity Dialogue, and I thought I would extend an invitation to members of the Student Council. This initiative will convene a group of student leaders (including those not traditionally engaged by these conversations) to have a thoughtful dialogue on the notion of diversity in this new decade, how this idea translates to campus initiatives, and the complex dynamics that affect campus climate. We are running this dialogue as a “pilot,” to see if this model of student engagement is effective for promoting mutual understanding among students and if this model should be continued/expanded. We have also clarified our goals in coordination with units such as the OVPDC, ODOS, and CLFI, as I will be producing a “resolution” based on the insights of the Dialogue (with approval of the participants) for the Chancellor, Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate, Dean of Students, and other administrators.
There are a couple of things I really like about this. It highlights just how complex diversity is in the new decade, and I believe, this dialogue will really concentrate on how we overcome that challenge. It also seems to touch on the concept of mutual understanding. Keeping in mind that I come from a background that, admittedly, lacked diversity, it is good to see the initiative not only improving diversity, but talking about what it really is. The campus, myself included, could use a discussion on what it means to have diversity (including diversity in thought as well as diversity in ethnicity and background), before it attempts to achieve that goal.
Sadly, I won’t be able to attend this forum, as I will be in an SSFC meeting. However, I strongly encourage people to look into this forum and attend it, if possible. This is, in my mind, one step in the right direction for alleviating a problem that our has affected the campus for a very long time.