Campus Life Editor
This past Thursday on Oct. 15 from 5 – 6 p.m., the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) hosted the first part of its two-part “Educate Yourself” training series. The series, hosted virtually via Zoom, was created with the intention of providing an engaging and educational environment for students and members of the Poet community to learn more about inclusivity and advocacy. The first segment of the series, “How to Have Inclusive Conversations,” focused on the basics of inclusive language, how to set community guidelines/expectations, and on balancing power dynamics. The creator of the series, fourth-year Diversity Ambassador Bergen Flom, has been working with the OEI since her freshman year, and, as a senior member of the office, was given the opportunity to design her own training series focusing on inclusivity and advocacy.
The event, headed by Flom, had several participants and began with everyone stating their pronouns in the Zoom chat. The session included facilitated discussions with participants as well as a nicely organized and creative powerpoint presentation. The session was incredibly engaging, as participants were able to interact throughout the discussion through anonymous polls and questionnaires, which aided the discussion on how inclusivity is seen in our daily lives.
Although incorporating inclusivity into our daily lives is imperative, sometimes, discussions on inclusivity can be frustratingly exclusive. The goal of the training was to bridge that gap. “There’s so much unnecessary ‘righteousness’ around inclusivity,” said Flom. “My goal was to create a space where I level with students and talk about the realistic complexity of inclusivity while also providing some useful tools they can apply immediately if they so chose to.” The tools outlined in the training included simple changes individuals can make in their daily lives to make others feel seen and accepted. Some of these changes included degendering one’s vocabulary by switching out gendered terms with gender neutral ones. This included swapping out terms like, “you guys” with “you all,” and changing “be a man” to “toughen up.” Participants were also given the basics on how everyday language can be exclusive to others without the intention of doing so. The important thing is that we make a conscious effort to make others feel more comfortable and seen.
Making steps towards inclusivity helps others feel respected and seen, which is, undoubtedly, something that all of us should strive to do. Learning more about inclusivity is a journey that does not end with a single training session, or even two. Even those most familiar with inclusivity acknowledge that there is always something new to learn. The first step for creating a more inclusive environment is the desire to learn more. “Simply being thirsty for knowledge and then taking actionable steps to learn more is so important when it comes to inclusivity,” commented Flom, “because sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know.” Luckily, the OEI has a bounty of resources for students to learn more about inclusivity and advocacy. Although the OEI has been working remotely, like every other part of the College, the members of the OEI have not stopped their quest to provide students with access to resources and tools for expanding their inclusive learning experiences. The second part of the training, “Self Advocacy,” will be held on Nov. 19 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. To learn more about inclusivity and advocacy, or about other ways to get involved regarding equity, the OEI can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org as well as through their Instagram @wcforequity.
Featured Image: Courtesy of @wcforequity