- 1 Regina Barber DeGraaff: The Great Communicator
- 2 Dawn Dietrich and the Power of Introspection
- 3 Maria McLeod: Building Bridges and Telling Stories
- 4 Employees recognized for commitment to Western’s Equity and Inclusion Forum workshop series
- 7 Equity Forums Featured in Western Front
- 9 President Bruce Shepard Featured in Seattle Times
- 10 Trainers Featured in Western Today
- 11 Equity Forum featured in Western Window Television
Regina Barber DeGraaff: The Great Communicator
“It’s so frustrating, but we all know what it (the stereotypical image of a scientist) is: a heterosexual white cis male secluded in a lab somewhere who can barely communicate with his fellow human beings.”
Regina Barber DeGraaff, an instructor in Western’s Physics and Astronomy Department and the College of Science and Engineering’s STEM Inclusion and Outreach Specialist, has a good idea of the public’s stereotypical idea of a scientist. At a time where the term “intersectionality” has become a prime buzzword for the entwined nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, to name a few, as they apply to a given individual or group, and the overlapping social identities these categorizations spawn, Barber DeGraaff said she never fit into any of the preconceived boxes that society has tried to place her in.
“I want to bring science to the public in an easy, accessible way that isn’t intimidating,” she said. “And I want the scientific community to look like and reflect the cultural cross-section of our country. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.”
That’s Barber DeGraaff in a nutshell: passionate, focused, unabashedly verbose, and ready to push whatever buttons she can to make this campus do one thing: talk about race. And she plans to do just that as she leads workshops as part of the campus’ Equity and Inclusion Forums during the school year. Click the link to read the full and last installment of the four articles supporting Equity and Inclusion Month at Western. Full article
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.”
Employees recognized for commitment to Western’s Equity and Inclusion Forum workshop series
“When these 16 folks signed up for these workshops they had no idea they’d be earning this plaque, being served dinner and being honored by our vice presidents and president. The work came from their heart,” said Nick Sanchez, Western’s Employment Inclusion manager.
Sixteen current and former Western faculty and staff were recognized at the Squalicum Boathouse where they were presented with plaques for completing workshops in all four learning concepts in the Campus Equity and Inclusion Forum.
Read the full article here >>>>>
Equity Forums Featured in Western Front
“Part of what I’m trying to do with the program is pull on the strengths of people who are already really good at this,” Sanchez said
“I don’t think this is something that ends at all,” Sanchez said. “Just like this past quarter showed us, there are current issues, whether they be in the media or right here on our campus, that we need to respond to.”
Click here to read more about this article.
President Bruce Shepard Featured in Seattle Times
“Shepard said he’s been concerned for several years that higher-education institutions haven’t been doing a good job of combating racism and inequity. In April 2014, his call for greater racial diversity at Western prompted a backlash among conservative critics. And even before the November incident, Western had started to offer equity and inclusion training to faculty and staff, a smorgasbord of classes aimed at improving empathy and reducing subtle and overt discrimination.
One class, for example, has participants work through a series of exercises that reveal the biases they hold, and teaches how to guard against those biases.
Since the incident, enrollment in the voluntary classes has increased dramatically, Shepard said.”
Trainers Featured in Western Today
“Once I stopped having to worry about a roof over my head, or a meal, or my personal safety, I could finally start to grow. I was bitter, and distrustful, and undereducated. But every day I spent in the classroom took that anger and distrust and began to change it, and I used it as fuel for my ambitions in the classroom.”
“Honest conversations about our society, about race and gender and social norms and roles – truly honest ones – have to involve everybody squirming a bit, feeling a little bit uncomfortable, even the professor.”
“Like many people with marginalized identities, trans and genderqueer people often have to develop a set of life skills that people outside that identity group don’t have. The at times tremendous and exhausting isolation experienced by some trans people is a big part of why I and some fellow students started the Committee on Transgender Inclusion of the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association while in law school.”
“I saw these students in my classroom struggling with real challenges: learning disabilities; their skin color; their religious affiliation or sexual orientation. All of it. And I just knew from the start that I was going to work and build community in the classroom, that I would do whatever it took to make my students know that I was their ally.”