Diversity and Inclusion Series illustrates discrimination in society

Rebecca Dietrich

RockOUT and Building Bridges created an interactive activity simulating societal differences. In this activity, each group was split up according to race and asked to construct a building out of materials. The minority groups periodically had supplies taken from them, showing the discrimination that our society still faces even today.

Janelle Wilson, Rocket Contributor
March 6, 2014

Slippery Rock University welcomed its fifth annual Diversity and Inclusion series on March 3,4, and 6 with art, guest speakers, presentations, and student workshops that focused on awareness in the community.

This year’s events focused on student awareness of world culture, the community’s inclusion of people with disabilities, and the on-going effects of discrimination.

To raise student awareness of world culture, presentations were given by the Model African Union and Model NATO. Monday’s events included the meeting of Model NATO students who travelled to Washington D.C on Feb. 13 to 16 to participate in a student-run model of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s meeting. SRU students represented the countries of Slovakia and Norway and sat in session for a total of 16 hours throughout the trip.

Faculty advisor Dr. George Brown said that the interesting thing about the trip was that the group had a large percentage of non-political science majors.

“I’d like to see more of that,” he said, “It’s nice to see students go outside of their comfort zones to learn something new.”

Sophomore public health major Serena Engel, 20, said students get a sense of the pain smaller countries feel at the end of the experience.

“I wanted to become a more global citizen, and this took me out of the US and into the mind of a smaller country with less political influence.”

Sophomore political science major Adam Bridges, 19 said his favorite part of the trip was his “individual research time”.

“Washington D.C is a breathtaking city,” he said. “And this trip was a wonderful experience.”

To focus on the community’s inclusion of people with disabilities, the “People First Language Speak OUT” workshop on Tuesday emphasized the importance of referring to a person with whom they are first and their disability second. Also held on Tuesday was the presentation “Vision and Revision”, which focused on how to create art with the use of technology after someone has lost their sight.

To provide insight on discrimination, Dr. Heather Frederick’s Civil Rights students presented Monday on influential figures from the Civil Rights Movement and highlighted their achievements. Senior political science major Michael Ierino, 22, presented on W. E. B. Dubois saying that he was an impassioned man who made things happen.

Dr. Frederick said that the best part about the assignment was that it took historical figures you heard of before and put their achievements and movements in the spotlight.

RockOUT and Building Bridges hosted a simulation workshop on Tuesday that focused on the division between people in society. They instructed students to organize themselves based on where they fit in in society, including their race, socioeconomic class, and sexual orientation. They were not allowed to talk to other groups or leave their designated area.

Students in each group were asked to construct a city and each was given a set of materials. Those who identified with the white, middle and upper class identities were given more supplies and received help from members while minorities and lower class citizens were bullied and had those supplies take from them.

At the end of the activity, RockOUT and Building Bridges members revealed that the workshop represented how even though society instructs you to stay within your boundaries, it’s easy to break down those boundaries and work together.

Building Bridges president, senior theater major Ci’Era Spencer, 23 said the event illustrated these issues in the real world.

“This was meant to mimic society and its boundaries,” she said. “And it shows how even though societal bonds can be broken, we still strictly adhere to them. I’d like to see that change.”

To conclude Thursday’s events, RockOUT showed the movie “Transamerica” which focused on the journey of Bree, a transsexual woman who goes on a road trip with her son and discovers more about who she is along the way.

RockOUT president, senior psychology major Kris Hawkins, 21 said there’s still hope to make a change.

“It’s a total realization that people face discrimination everyday and crappy things still do happen in today’s society,” he said. “The more we realize that, the more we can hope to cooperate and work together.”

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