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Diversity initiative makes progress with workshop and forum

May 2nd, 2012

John Carroll students and faculty have joined efforts recently to make the campus more accepting and inclusive of the diversity of the student body. This week, open forums, workshops for faculty members and the “Stop Bias” campaign have all taken place in an effort to celebrate diversity and speak out against acts of prejudice at JCU.

At a forum held last Monday, April 23, Lauren Bowen, associate academic vice president for academic programs and faculty diversity, said, “There’s not going to be one strategy or one solution [to intolerance]. We need to better embed conversations on what it means to be inclusive into the curriculum. We need to create more opportunities for students to share their experiences and to discuss similarities and differences. We need to be more explicit in saying that some students don’t just feel excluded, they feel hatred; and we need to be more proactive about that.”

Bowen facilitated an open discussion with students and faculty about diversity at JCU. Attendees shared stories and talked about methods of inclusion they have seen work and not work. They also brought up suggestions on how to make the campus more accepting. According to the president of the African American Alliance, junior Curtis Walker, this forum was a sequel to a forum the school had earlier in the year.

“It was following up from a forum we had in the fall that was sparked by various incidents that happened on campus. We had some chalking and posters going up that were acts of intolerance that we felt had been ignored. Those events sparked the first forum, and this forum was to follow up to that one and to make sure that everyone was still on board,” said Walker.

Walker and Bowen are both heavily involved in “Stop Bias.” Walker is the student representative on the Diversity Steering Committee, and Bowen is a member of the bias reporting team, as well as chair of the committee. The campaign was created to give students and faculty an opportunity to report acts of intolerance and have something done about them.

“The campaign was created by the diversity committee to challenge us all to stop bias when we see it and to be more welcoming and inclusive. We used the word bias to include those acts that are unintentional that we all commit and those that are very much intentional,” said Bowen.

In addition to student involvement, there is also a diversity task force made up of faculty members. According to Director of Human Resources Bud Stuppy, the task force has really tried to speak out for the JCU community.

“The diversity task force has helped create a direction for the University. [President,] the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J. came too, and said he really wanted us to create something actionable. From the task force has come a steering committee that has helped guide the recommendations of the University. It has all really created an effort to train people to be aware of diversity and inclusion and what it means to be a part of the community at John Carroll,” Stuppy said.

While efforts to make the University more accepting have been made, more work needs to be done, according to members of these groups and forums.

“The University needs to host more events and have things that indirectly address diversity and inclusion. [These include] events where students can unite, have fun and let conversation flow naturally, and [issues of diversity] will come up,” said Walker.