1st Launch Event
On October 15, 2015 we hosted a launch event to inform the Western community of the implementation of Campus Equity & Inclusion Forum. A guest speaker, Michael Benitez Jr., was the highlight of this event. As the current Chief Diversity Officer and Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at University of Puget Sound, he has served higher education in different capacities for the last 15 years. He is a co-editor of the anthology “Crash Course: Reflections on the Film Crash for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power, and Privilege”, a collection of essays by some of the country’s most prominent anti-racism writers, scholars and activists. He has contributed to several magazines and featured in numerous educational documentaries. To read about this featured article in Western Today please click here.
The finale of this launch event was a surprise spray painting session on a temporary mural where attendees could freely express their thoughts on equity, diversity and inclusion. Even people who were not attendees contributed to the mural as this caught the attention of others passing by. Shawn Cass, an alumnus of WWU, aided in this process by giving brief lessons on spray painting as well as adding some artwork to the mural himself. Cass graduated in 2008 with a degree in environmental science. He is a local artist whose artwork is displayed in many establishments around town including Pizza Pipeline and Casa Que Pasa as well as a mural on one of the buildings at Whatcom Community College. Check out this featured article in Western Today by clicking here.
How It All Started
In his 2014 Fall Convocation address, President Shepard challenged the Western Washington University campus community to more fully embrace its mission to reflect the increasing diversity of its current and prospective students, faculty and staff. As part of that call to action, President Shepard has called upon resident campus experts to help the campus community enhance its sensitivity and understanding of the experiences of our diverse colleagues. To facilitate this work, President Shepard announced that the university would be calling upon and honoring those who do this work to create a new series of courses and training opportunities on topics like critical cultural consciousness, which would be available for WWU employees to attend on university time and at university expense. To hear President Shepard’s announcement, please watch the video below:
On November 10, 2014 the President’s Taskforce on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity held a luncheon to recognize the outstanding ongoing efforts of those who work on diversity issues across campus, and to solicit suggestions and volunteers to lead additional trainings on this new platform. Over 25 faculty and staff volunteered to teach workshops on a variety of topics.In the spring of 2015 the President’s Diversity Taskforce submitted a recommendation to fund the Diversity & Equity Training series into the university-wide budget process, and is grateful to have received pilot funding to demonstrate the value of this program to achieving Western’s strategic goals related to diversity.