KAYLEE MICHAEL, TRUMPET GUEST WRITER
Often when we talk about a flawed system, our instincts are to challenge it. But, in one of my courses, I was faced with another idea. Instead of challenging the system, work within it to change it.
As a student of color attending a predominantly white institution, I feel as though there are things in Wartburg’s system that negatively impact students of color. I am a person who automatically thinks “resist,” and in a motive to do that I began to almost immediately get involved on campus in organizations as a platform to speak out on issues for students of color.
After reading “Everyday White people Confront Racial & Social Injustice,” by Julie O’Mara, a diversity and inclusion consultant at O’Mara and Associates, I learned how she used her experience to make improvements.
After working in oppressive work spaces to make her own company, she worked with the goal of combating negative, but common, experiences related to injustice. I’ve found that Wartburg has allowed me a chance to change the system by using O’Mara’s method.
I educated myself on Wartburg’s student population and its issues, such as a perceived lack of bias training for faculty. I believe this would aid faculty in recognizing their own bias. I brought this to an organizations’ attention, we brainstormed ideas such as a panel for faculty, and then brought the idea to Dr. Dan Kittle, dean of students.
Strength comes in numbers, and I believe people take the issue more seriously if it affects more than one person. A broader issue on campus, I believe, is a lack of accepting diversity. O’Mara had run into
co-workers saying, “Ok just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.” When others say this to me on campus, I believe they may be unwilling to learn about diversity and inclusiveness.
Specifically for Wartburg, those two things are built into our mission statement, however I believe many on campus may assume things like that are inherently practiced.
Inclusivity and diversity are not something that can be taught and then the conversation is over, however both can be discussed and learned. I can tell you how to be inclusive, I can show you how and I can give you examples on what being inclusive is about, but it is a never-ending thing.
Being inclusive means to constantly be learning about those around you, especially those who differ from you. Inclusivity is continuous and progressive when it’s genuine.