The College of Arts and Sciences’ third diversity workshop for faculty and students was held on March 25 in the Philips conference room.
This year faculty members and students partook in provocative conversations concerning structural inequalities in the West Chester community and how members of the university can become agents of change.
In an effort to make West Chester University a safe space for members and to ensure that every student has access to tools that encourage academic success, workshop leaders Dr. Anita Foeman, Dr. Lisa Ruchti, and Dr. William Nessly encouraged attendees to delve deep and contribute honest answers to the discussion.
Assistant to the CAS Dean for student issues and professor of communication studies, Anita Foeman, urged, “This theme hits home because West Chester University is home. We need to provide a space of security and safety here.”
Sociologist, professor of women’s and gender studies, and member of the College of Arts and Sciences diversity committee, Lisa Ruchti, expanded further on Foeman’s theme of home by adding, “Today the home is not just private, it’s something we are all responsible for…we blur the private and the public. The spheres overlap.” [pullquote align=”center”]Today the home is not just private, it’s something we are all responsible for…we blur the private and the public. The spheres overlap.[/pullquote]
In an effort to be transparent and to better understand the blurred line between private and public spheres, faculty members and students engaged in a three-part workshop after viewing a thought-provoking documentary titled, “Race The House We Live In.”
Each sector of the three-part workshop proposed several questions designed to provoke conversation about community, privilege, safety, and perception.
The basis of each question was rooted in the overarching inquiry: how are structural inequalities created and how do the effects of these inequalities gradually build in our society and in our communities?
By way of discussion and introspection, members of the workshop commented on the #BlackLivesMatter backlash in the West Chester Community, incidents where race was mentioned or concealed in WCU’s timely warning notifications, ways to encourage more underrepresented students of science, math, and technology to apply to WCU’s campus, and how the misuse of social media platforms, such as Yik Yak, hinders West Chester’s growth as an academic community.
“What we want is this campus to be a safe home for everyone,” said Ruchti, “We want everyone to have access to safety.”
The College of Arts and Sciences diversity workshop acts as a platform for colleagues and community members to engage in significant discussions that contribute to this campus’ solidarity.
When asked how she felt about this workshop, a West Chester University student answered, “It’s important to know that our professors and administrators care. It’s important that these workshops continue.”
Angira S. Pickens is a fourth-year student majoring in English with minors in journalism and ethnic studies. She can be reached at AP765497@wcupa.edu.