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Leading a seminar on diversity


Posted on March 10, 2015 by By Mark Wade '15, Peer Mentor.

Courtesy: Mark Wade '15 Mark Wade '15, a peer mentor, teaches a seminar.

I recently delivered an important seminar for my peers in Moumgis Auditorium. Participants received two note cards, a piece of paper and a pen. They were asked to write one thing that they wanted to learn from the seminar on the paper. These were crumpled to form "snowballs," which led to our first icebreaker. Everyone stood in a circle at the front of the auditorium and threw their snowballs around. Volunteers read aloud from the papers they caught. Many said something such as, "I want to learn more about my privileges and the privileges of others."

The next area of the seminar was the lecture portion. I spoke about cultural responsiveness, what people could expect and what was expected of the participants as far as respect for people’s privacy. The cultural responsiveness area covered advocating for groups who you do not identify with--for example, men advocating for women's rights. Then, we moved into discussing race and diversity at home. Growing up surrounded by your own socioeconomic class, race or ethnicity can create an environment where it is difficult to speak about rights and the importance of cultural respect.

After this short lecture, participants created "privilege chains." These chains are based on a number of statements, which cover: gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, religion, weight, ability, and many other areas of diversity. Participants could have up to 45 links in their chains. Individuals with up to 18 links were in the short category, participants with 18 to 28 were in the medium category and students with more than 28 links were in the long category.

The groups broke up into smaller discussions, which were facilitated by a Stop the Hate trainer. These questions focused on the individual’s current feelings toward the activity. Did he or she feel the length of the chain was appropriate? Did the links define an individual as a person? After the small discussion, we came back together for a larger group conversation. We asked the participants why they thought we brought this presentation to DelVal students and what statements really stood out them. The last question we asked the participants was: “What will you do to help make sure that members of the DelVal community will be treated equitably?”

This program was coordinated through my mentor, Tara Leigh Sands, and myself with the assistance of Students for Diversity President Tia Taylor ’15, Academic Program Director of Graduate Counseling Psychology and Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology Dr. Audrey Ervin, Stop the Hate, Minority Relations Council and Students for Diversity.

Courtesy: Mark Wade '15. Participants added links to paper chains during the seminar.