The theme of this year’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit, “Expanding Our Minds: Encompassing Diversity and Practicing Inclusion” is a reflection of the summit’s underlying goal: continuous social change.
“ … Continuous implies ongoing, consistent, uninterrupted …. ” said Michael Roseberry, chair of the Chancellor’s Committee on Campus Accessibility. “In a sense it seems like maybe continual social change is what we’ve had in the past, where there’s been periods of a large degree of change followed by periods of a large degree of stagnation, so, I think that really highlights the difference with continuous social change, that need for ongoing, consistent learning.”
On Tuesday and Wednesday, faculty, staff, students and community members from across the campus and Boulder attended panels and keynote addresses covering such topics as gender violence, the multicultural workplace, privilege and activism, and the social constructions of sex and gender.
Alphonse Keasley, the assistant vice chancellor for campus, climate and community engagement, said is a way to bring CU the best information.
“So it’s important for us to make sure that we, one, have the latest information for the whole campus, students, faculty and staff related to diversity and integration and then two, that we take advantage of our own intellectual and cultural talent,” Keasley said.
In the past, Keasley said, the summit was able to bring in cutting-edge individuals to present, but that this year, because of the economic situation, they turned to local talent.
Chancellor Philip DiStefano opened the second day of the summit by celebrating the role diversity plays in a campus climate.
“As a university community we should celebrate our diversity,” DiStefano said. “Indeed, diversity is an enriching hallmark of life and education at CU-Boulder. We ask all of our students, faculty and staff, to embrace such an incredible opportunity to get to know fellow students and colleagues from different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.”
Despite the summit’s emphasis on communicating information, Nate Diaz, a 21-year-old junior geography and environmental studies major, said he didn’t attend the diversity summit because he wasn’t really aware of what they were trying to accomplish.
“I saw the article in the Buff Bulletin, but I didn’t feel like I needed to go,” Diaz said. “I didn’t see that there was anything in it for me, I don’t understand what it is they’re trying to accomplish with it. I mean, diversity summit sounds in theory like a good thing but what is it you’re trying to do with that?”
Keasley said this is the second year the summit has asked for feedback, called “Lessons Learned,” and that the lesson learned last year was who wasn’t attending the sessions.
“Well, we again found out who was not attending the summit and it unfortunately included a lot of the student population and the faculty,” Keasley said.
The Lessons Learned, which were feedback sheets handed out at the end of sessions, asked questions like, “What inspired you to be a champion for change, growth and education” and “Was this session helpful in expanding the inclusive campus environment?”
Keasley said the Lessons Learned help organizers understand what people will do once they leave the summit.
“That’s what we’re really trying to get at is, how do we bring about continuous social change?” Keasley said.
But the learning goes both ways and this year, a Social Climate Survey was sent to all the students on campus with the goal of understanding the whole notion of how people understand diversity inclusion, Keasley said.
One of the sessions, “Conflict Transformation in the Inclusive Environment,” presented by Stan Deetz, a professor of communication and director of the Center for the Study of Conflict and of the Peace and Conflict Studies Progra drew one of his students interested in learning more about group interaction and productive conflict resolution.
“So, the idea of the window bashing theory, [is] the fact that, you can try and do something that temporarily seems to work but the problem always comes back, sometimes bigger and worse that it was initially so you try harder and harder using the same method but it doesn’t really change the outcome,” said Tyler Pinover, a 19-year-old sophomore psychology major. “It made it a little bit easier to understand and see how it could be applied in life.”
Roseberry emphasized the importance of learning as one of the purposes of the summit.
“You know, it’s not something that’s explicitly in the summit’s theme, but it is something that, in a broad sense, is the purpose of the summit, we’re here to learn,” Roseberry said. “Part of the message, is that the learning should continue throughout the year.”
Contact CU Independent News Budget Editor Sheila V Kumar at Sheila.firstname.lastname@example.org.