Campaign to stop bias on campus launches into phase two

October 25th, 2012

Posters around campus, which feature familiar faces making statements about why inclusion is important to them, are just one aspect of phase two of the “Stop Bias” campaign. The Diversity Steering Committee, comprised of John Carroll University students, faculty, staff and administrators, will launch the second phase of the campaign on Oct. 28, in an effort to continue to work towards a diverse, accepting and bias-free campus community.

Danielle Carter, who serves as the director for the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, and is a member of the Diversity Steering Committee, said, “Phase two allows the campus to put a name and a face to those who support diversity and inclusion on campus. I anticipate this phase being even more successful than phase one because the individuals in the posters are known by a large portion of the campus community.”

The Diversity Steering Committee was established by JCU’s president, the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J., in April of 2011, with the purpose of setting institutional goals for diversity and inclusion as well as monitoring and assessing the progress toward these goals, according to Carter. The committee is also responsible for planning Celebrate Diversity Week, which will take place from Oct. 28 to Nov. 2.

Some of the events during the week will include various workshops, a showing of the film “The Anatomy of Hate,” a Post Secret event, a Culture Fest and prize giveaways, according to Carter.

While the first phase, which began in February, was centered around stopping exclusion based on bias and used a hand image to emphasize the preventative goal of the campaign, phase two focuses more strongly on inclusion and acceptance.

Senior Curtis Walker, the student representative for the committee, emphasized that phase two aims to humanize the campaign. “We wanted to place faces and testimonies to the posters. We found that difficult to do with the first phase.”

Lauren Bowen, the chair of the committee, said that phase one, although it took a more passive approach, was a success. “We did a lot of work to raise awareness on campus, particularly among students, about what bias is – the experience of feeling excluded or marginalized on the basis of some part of one’s identity.”

Phase one was built upon encouraging members of the community to report incidents of bias that they witnessed or experienced on campus through an online reporting tool. Bowen said the committee received 12 reports during phase one, which took place from February to May of last semester. The bias reporting tool is still an important part of phase two. Bowen said, “Since [this semester] has started, we have received reports steadily, and we’ve been able to respond promptly.”

Students have been supportive of the initiative and campaign, and most have seen the posters in their various locations around campus.

Junior Katie Kiliany said, “I don’t know if posters alone  are going to be a ton of help, but I think it’s good to bring awareness.” She added that Celebrate Diversity Week is valuable in furthering this awareness. Senior Frances Csarny, a resident assistant, has gone through training related to diversity and bias and thinks the bias reporting tool is a good resource.

Walker, who appears on one of the posters, said that the second phase aims to spread the word to a greater number of the campus population. “With phase two, we hope to reach more members of our campus community,” he said. “We want the posters and the campaign all over campus, not just in offices and the hallways outside our classrooms.”

Bowen said that the posters will change every month and will feature various members of the committee. “That will hopefully generate some conversation about why inclusion is worth the work,” she said.