The Office of Inclusive Excellence (OIE) has hosted Diversity Dialogues for several years at Slippery Rock University. Due to COVID-19, the Diversity Dialogues have had to be adjusted after going virtual and now, back in-person. This semester, the Diversity Dialogues are fully in person, allowing for growth within the event.
When the Diversity Dialogues were hosted online, the event would average 20 to 25 participants per session. Now that the Diversity Dialogues have transitioned back in-person, the sessions average about 40 students. At that rate, participation has doubled after transitioning to in-person sessions. Although the Diversity Dialogues were meant for small group discussion, the office is excited to see more engagement in these sessions and plan to adjust as needed.
Keisha Booker, assistant director of multicultural development for the OIE, spoke on some of the goals for their office and Diversity Dialogues.
“It is great to see people getting involved in campus conversations around diversity,” she said. “One of our main goals for the program is to create a more inclusive SRU campus. This is a primary goal not necessarily just for the program, but a large-scale goal for our office.”
Booker said the energy in the sessions is different since being in-person again. Students are genuinely excited during the conversations, and it has been easier in person than on Zoom. The OIE has also decided to focus on some areas of growth and added new ways of planning and conducting these discussions.
This semester, student writers have been incorporated into the program. This allows for the Diversity Dialogues to move towards a student-focused peer model. With this new aspect, the dialogues are taken over by students who write and plan the focus of the sessions. This will be used more in the spring session, with the support of the OIE graduate assistant Kemani Farmer.
“Providing a safe space to have those challenging conversations is one of the goals for Diversity Dialogues,” Farmer said. “These are conversations that are already being had but not necessarily in a diverse group or in areas that are providing different perspectives. This is basically a format to not only educate from your own perspective but also gain knowledge from other perspectives.”
At the end of each session, the students are asked to complete an assessment to collect feedback regarding topics of future discussions, activities or other adjustments to consider.
In the future, the office will be adding Diversity Dialogue panels. This is expected to take place between November and the end of the fall semester.
For students who are interested in specific information about the Diversity Dialogues such as topics, location, time, etc., all sessions will be posted on CORE. To never miss an event, follow @sruoie on Instagram and Twitter and SRU-Office of Inclusive Excellence-OIE on Facebook.