Dawn Dietrich and the Power of Introspection
“I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.” ― Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
The “terrible and beautiful world” vividly illustrated in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” this year’s Western Reads book selection, was never more on display for Western Reads Director and Associate Professor of English Dawn Dietrich than last year, when a series of events sparked by social media played out on Western’s campus that caused her to take a long, hard look at who she was, how she felt about race and social inequity, and to try analyze how she might work with others to address these issues on campus.
“When the racial incident happened, it quickly became clear that there was a pattern of racial insensitivity on campus. This wasn’t a singular event or an anomaly. People came forward with their stories, and I was left wondering how the enormous difficulties faced by faculty, staff, and students of color had been largely invisible to me,” she said. “I had always prided myself on being sensitive to racial injustice and oppression in many forms, especially as a professor of literature and film. But where had I been that I hadn’t seen the level of pain and discomfort experienced by others on campus? I needed to really examine that in myself before I could do anything else.”
“Leaning into discomfort” – the act of pushing ourselves into places that make us think critically about ourselves, our actions, and our perceptions of the world and how they affect others – is never an easy thing.
Asking hundreds of faculty and staff on a college campus to embrace the feeling and lean with you is, of course, even harder – but that was the challenge facing Nick Sanchez, Western’s Employment Inclusion manager, when he responded to then-President Bruce Shepard’s charge to address Western’s critical cultural consciousness, an effort that became the Campus Equity & Inclusion Forums.
Maria McLeod: Building Bridges and Telling Stories
When Maria McLeod was growing up in a small town of a few thousand people about 50 miles north of Detroit, she remembers realizing that where she lived didn’t look a whole lot like the big city to the south.
“My hometown was pretty much as homogenous as you could get,” said McLeod, an assistant professor of Journalism at Western and one of the facilitators of this year’s Campus Equity and Inclusion Forums that will be held throughout the school year. “There was real pressure to conform, to fit in, and to not stand out. As much as I look back on my hometown now with nostalgia and a lot of love, when the time came, I knew I was going to do whatever it took to get the heck out of there and see more of the world.”
Who We Are
Our Training Series
The WWU Campus Equity and Inclusion Training Series is a university-wide initiative to empower members of the Western campus community to better understand and thoughtfully engage with the experiences and identities of all our community members. The mission of the Equity and Inclusion Training Series is twofold:
- To honor and endorse existing training and engagement opportunities for Western employees to expand their critical cultural consciousness
- To provide a single portal for Western faculty and staff to register for diversity-related training and events
The Equity and Inclusion Training Series welcomes staff and faculty from across the university to attend, design and lead its workshops. Support and facilitation of these workshops is a combined effort of all divisions, colleges, and departments.
How Does the Campus Equity and Inclusion Training Series Work?
The training series on campus are tailored to adult learning for employees to promote various opportunities for both professional and personal development. Each workshop connects employee learning to real-world scenarios, as well as events that they can relate to or tie back to their own life experiences and knowledge. Participants can draw on their own experiences as they relate to the training concepts or topics.
Each workshop facilitates a conversation that can enhance an employee’s day-to-day work environment by providing practical and useful tools. We provide a training series on four different conceptual levels. Our workshops are tailored to meet you where you are in your learning on such topics.
Upon completion of one workshop from each of the four conceptual areas below over the course of an academic year, participants will receive a certificate of lifelong learning – as diversity and inclusion work is an ongoing process.
Training workshops will include but are not limited to:
Concept 1: Cultural Awareness of Self
– Caring for One’s Spirit and Health for the Long Haul
– Beyond the Wheelchair Symbol: Welcoming disability culture in the workplace
Concept 2: Experiences of Others
– Fostering Inclusive Learning Environments for Transgender, Genderqueer and Non-Binary Students
– Micro-Affirmations & Eliminating Subtle Discrimination
Concept 3: Critical Conversations in the Workplace
– Understanding Diversity through Perceptions and Language
– A Conversation for Majority Culture Professionals
Concept 4: A Call to Action
– Infusing social justice in all classrooms: Towards inclusive content and pedagogy
– Serving Up Empathetic Education in a Diverse Society
Response From Campus
President Acknowledges Equity Forums
“I would like to thank all of the students, faculty and staff who have been involved in working on these initiatives and the enormous commitment of time and energy they have made on behalf of all of us in the Western community. The leadership, outreach, expertise, and partnership of the President’s Taskforce on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity has touched nearly all of these new initiatives.”
Curious About Our Upcoming Scheduled Classes?
Check out the training portal website to register for our workshops by clicking on the button below.