Geneseo presented its first “Cultivating Community” dialogue of the semester on Monday Feb. 4 in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom. The dialogues occur each semester, and the theme for this spring’s series is “Living Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”
The purpose of the dialogue series is to acknowledge the college’s commitment to inclusivity and to build a diverse campus with students, faculty and staff who share mutual respect. During this event, discussion centered on how past and current commitment to inclusivity can inspire growth for the future.
Monday’s dialogue featured panel members who answered questions about campus initiatives to foster diversity, as well as their own personal goals about fostering growth of diversity and inclusivity for the future.
The panel was made up of students, faculty and staff: psychology major senior Leslie Tetteh, College Registrar Kimberley Willis, professor of psychology Monica Schneider and Tim Finnigan of the Milne Library service desk.
The panel acknowledged the increase in Geneseo’s campus commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, as there has been much more open dialogue and outreach from faculty and students over the past few years. The panel found that there still is work to be done, however, in order to continue fostering an inclusive climate.
“Collaboration is important [to foster inclusivity],” Schneider said. “We need to work on integrating our efforts and bringing people together.”
“We must continue to share why intersectionality is important,” Tetteh said.
Following the panel, groups of faculty and staff worked with students to further discuss diversity, campus commitment to equity, goals for the future and civic responsibility at Geneseo.
Panel members and discussion groups acknowledged the importance of recognizing all types of diversity: gender and sexuality differences, racial differences, economic differences and even personality differences.
Audience members discussed their own experiences confronting racism and homophobia on campus and acknowledged a need to raise awareness of the differences among members of the Geneseo community.
The dialogue ended with an emphasis on growth in the future: being active in reaching for inclusivity, not being bystanders and making sure excluded groups have their voices heard.
“We need to listen and know that we can learn something from everyone. Go up to someone you don’t know and challenge them to get to know you,” Finnigan said. “Then challenge yourself to get to know them. Once you are willing to truly understand what someone else is going through, the future is endless.”
“I want to live, breathe and eat inclusivity, and make sure every aspect of my life reflects my commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity,” Schneider said. “We have the power to create a space where people feel welcome and can thrive.”