The UDiversity Educational Institute started a conversation with students about diversity, inclusion and oppression in today’s society on Wednesday.
During “Building Bridges to Cultural Competency,” Lea Webb, a coordinator at the UDiversity Educational Institute, hosted an intimate discussion, aiming to make connections between diversities and educate students about the issues of oppression and how to handle them when they arise.
The UDiversity Educational Institute is a branch of Binghamton University’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The mission of the branch, according to its website, is to support the DEI’s goal of working together with students, faculty and staff to support values of diversity, equity and inclusion in campus life. Through research, training and education, they hope to bring an end to bias and harassment.
“Usually there is just a diversity officer doing the educational programs and training, but here we have a whole educational institute that is looking at best practice and trying to incorporate new research and partners with different offices on campus,” Webb said.
UDiversity has worked with the Center for Learning and Teaching, Dean of Students Office, Broome Community College, University Libraries and Residential Life as part of its educational programs.
At Wednesday’s event, the conversation revolved around the effects of diversity on each individual. Beyond sharing these stories, attendees, along with Webb, reflected on why certain events happened, how they changed their perspective and how they could have been different. Diane Mathews, a senior majoring in biology, said hearing other people’s stories was interesting.
“Hearing what everyone had to say was amazing, and to see the different perspectives on the same situation,” Mathews said. “Realizing that these things are really happening still now is frustrating, and being part of the change is something that we should all do.”
The discussion also doubled as a training event for Mathews, who said it was a part of her College Reading and Learning Association certification for tutoring. Mathews had multiple options to complete this part of the training, but said she chose this one because of the impact this discussion has on her job.
“[Diversity and inclusion] is such an important issue, especially when we’re seeing all of these different students in tutoring,” Mathews said. “Having this idea of not knowing what their background is, is something that we take for granted and is something we need to think about.”
The UDiversity website offers resources to request training and to report incidents with students and faculty or staff. Webb said she wants students to feel comfortable approaching her regarding anything to do with diversity, equity and inclusion.
“I encourage people to just reach out to me,” Webb said. “Shoot me an email, give me a call if there are ideas or approaches they want to take on diversity trainings.”
The UDiversity Educational Institute will be holding another two-phase educational program on March 9 and March 16 this year.