Return of Diversity Week encourages student discussion

By Megan Loock
Elm Staff Writer

As part of the Office of Intercultural Affairs’ Diversity Week, Director of  Intercultural Affairs and Program Coordinator of Washington Scholars Carese Bates led a Diversity Week campaign, from Nov. 8 to Nov. 12.

According to Bates’ email, “Diversity Week is about broadcasting and uplifting the voices of people from various backgrounds and cultures. Our goal is to open a dialogue within the campus community, so we all can learn how to become more welcoming, knowledgeable, and inclusive individuals in society.”

Intercultural Ambassador sophomore Shannel Fraser said this year’s Diversity Week centered around the topic of privilege, but also included discussions that focused on what diversity means to you, why women are paid less, and the challenges Indigenous people face regarding their land.

Monday’s discussion, which was located in the Hodson Egg at 7 p.m., centered around the topic of Privilege and what it means to have Privilege.

On Tuesday, students could gather in the Hodson Egg at 7 p.m. for a screening of “Explained: Why Women Are Paid Less” with a short discussion afterwards.

According to Netflix, “Explained: Why Women Are Paid Less” is a Netflix original documentary series that “digs into a wide range of topics such as cryptocurrency, why diets fail, and the wild world of K-Pop.”

On Wednesday, the Office of Intercultural Affairs conducted a social media campaign on their Instagram, @wc_ica  about diversity and inclusion.

“The purpose of the social media campaign was to engage with students and to highlight how diversity and inclusion is important in their daily life,” Intercultural Ambassador sophomore Jackelin Osorio-Bravo said.

Students were encouraged to answer questions such as “what are your most important values,” “what about diversity is important to you,” “what value does diversity bring to your community,” and “what are you doing to make sure everyone feels included.”

“The purpose was to start the conversation of being diverse and inclusive,” Osorio-Bravo said.

On Thursday, an anti-racism discussion was held in the Hodson Egg as part of the first installment of this semester’s new REAL TALK Series.

The REAL TALK Series was created by junior Queen Cornish last year to create a safe space to discuss a variety of issues since the white truck bias incident.

The white truck bias incident was referring to two events that happened in the Fall 2019 semester, previously reported by The Elm.

On Nov. 22, 2019, a white pickup truck was driving through campus. Its occupants yelled racial slurs out the window at multiple groups of WC students. The Elm also reported that Public Safety deduced that it was the same white pickup truck that was reported on Nov. 11, 2019, for allegedly yelling racist slurs at students of color at the crosswalk on Washington Avenue by Reid Hall.

“When we choose to be anti-racist, we become actively conscious about race and racism and take actions to end racial inequities in our daily lives,”  Bates said at the start of Thursday’s discussion.

The discussion revolved around the definition of anti-racist as students tried to answer questions such as “why is the term anti-racist a positive term?”

“We encourage you all to call [people] in, not call [people] out,” Bates said. The term and action of being anti-racist goes beyond being “non-racist” because of its activism, and it “gives people something to fight for.”

To conclude Diversity Week on Friday, The Office of Intercultural Affairs held a screening of “There’s Something in the Water,” in the Norman James Theatre at 7 p.m.

According to Bates, the film brings attention to injustices caused by environmental racism and how indigenous women are fighting to protect their lands and community.

“I hope that students used these events as an opportunity to listen and learn from a wide range of people on campus,” Fraser said. “These programs were curated to promote awareness about why diversity is important and we all can contribute to a better society.”

Photo by Kayla Thornton
Featured Photo Caption: Director of the Intercultural Affairs and Program Coordinator of Washington Scholars Carese Bates educating students who attended last Thursday’s REAL TALK Series: Anti-Racism discussion.

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