By Felicity Bosk
Chancellor Renée Wachter held a Post-Election All-Campus Conversation entitled “The Importance of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at UW-Superior.” Yellow Jacket Union room 204 was filled with staff, faculty, administrators, and two students.
Everyone listened as speakers spoke of inclusiveness. Dean of Faculties Dean Yohnk said that we need to analyze our own responsibilities and that it is not okay to “blame, shame, or attack.”
Dean of Students Harry Anderson said this week has been one of the most challenging of his career. “It was the first time a student came to me with a question, and I didn’t have an answer.”
“Post-Election” was the key term, as the President Elect and his Vice President have spouted hateful rhetoric along the campaign trail.
Everyone then was asked to pair up with somebody in the room they did not know. They were supposed “take off their wearing hats,” which means they were supposed to talk to each other as people and not share what their job titles are. Everyone asked one another, “What matters to you?” After twenty minutes, everyone came back and told the group what they had learned from one another.
“Respect for diverse cultures and multiple voices is at the heart of UW-Superior’s liberal arts tradition, mission, and values,” Chancellor Wachter wrote in her email to the entire campus community.
In the YU atrium, large sticky notes were posted on a wall and white board. Written on them were key ideas people discovered throughout the week of discussions.
Under the headline “What are we learning about ourselves and others?” people said, “We are more similar than dissimilar,” and “I have fears and so do others. Feeling different can trigger fear.”
To the question, “What are the next steps that we can take as a campus?” some sticky notes read “Determine when to speak and when to listen,” “I will promote civility and compromise” and “Ask questions.”
Throughout the week there was also dialogue hosted by Academic and Student Affairs called Post-Election Faculty and Staff Dialog: Promoting Civil Discourse & Inclusion Inside and Outside the Classroom.
Chancellor Wachter sent out another campus-wide email summarizing what was learned during the week.
“As we head out next week to join family and friends for Thanksgiving, we may also find opportunities to be models of civil discourse, of active listening, and of empathy,” she wrote on November 18. “I encourage you to seek opportunities to be bridges of understanding and to promote brave and safe spaces for those closest to us.”