Chestnut Hill College welcomed colleagues from institutions within the Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education (SEPCHE) to this year’s Diversity and Inclusion Workshop at SugarLoaf January 28.
The workshop was led by Villanova professors, Maurice Hall, Ph.D., chair of the department of communications, and Terry Nance, Ph.D., associate vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
The day was designed around the concept of building skills in dialogue.
“Connections across identities are important and the purpose of dialogue is to surface these connections,” said Hall. “Because even when you fundamentally disagree, you still have to be able to have a respectful conversation that honors the core of your humanity and that of another person.”
The program began with the “Me Too” game, which served as a simple, but valuable, ice breaker that asked participants to state a fact about themselves and allowed others who shared that fact to stand up and respond in kind. The goal of the game and entire workshop was to create an environment of open sharing and dialogue to help enable those important conversations that are faced daily on college campuses.
“Dialogue is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but is also one of the most important,” Nance said. “People often say, ‘Check your biases at the door,’ but can we ever really, truly do that? Probably not. So while we can’t turn off our assumptions, we can have a corrective, and that corrective is dialogue.”
Following a discussion about dialogue, Hall and Vance asked members from each of the eight SEPCHE schools — Arcadia, Cabrini, Gwynedd-Mercy, Holy Family, Immaculata, Neumann, Rosemont and Chestnut Hill — to form groups composed of students, faculty and staff and discuss diversity issues on each campus.
Each group was then asked to act out their discussion, which opened up further dialogue about the similarities and differences the eight campuses had regarding issues of inclusion, diversity and the overall perception of both.
A period of strategic planning followed, during which each school gathered as a community to come up with strategies they could implement to help create a more open dialogue among their constituents.
“There is hope and there is possibility and there is potential among every person and on every campus,” said Hall.
— Marilee Gallagher ’14