Being the Change

Inclusion

VCIC branding. Photo retrieved from inclusiveva.org.

Caitlin Dorsch ~ Co-Editor in Chief

     On Monday, Feb. 17, the University of Lynchburg’s Office of Equity and Inclusion held a one-hour “Be The Change” Diversity and Inclusion Workshop at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Hall Campus Center.  This event was hosted by two members of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, who travel around Virginia spreading values of diversity and inclusion to organizations, schools, and communities.  

     The event was focused on microaggressions, and one of the hosts of the event described these as “like having a bunch of little paper cuts” and that have potential to become something bigger and bigger as the incidents pile up.  Third-year men’s basketball guard and one of the four student diversity liaisons Isräel Lockamy said, “The workshop was about microaggressions, and we should recognize them when we see or hear them.”

     The focus of the event was to sprout the seeds for more courageous conversations about taboo ideas and to make people feel comfortable speaking in a previously uncomfortable setting,” said Robert L. Canida II, the University’s new Diversity and Inclusion Officer.  Lockamy said, “Most of the things I knew about but I would say I learned more about the campus and students on campus.” 

     Unfortunately, the event was found to be frustrating because of the large group size.  In reaction to this specific event, Lockamy said he “felt as if some people were not paying attention as much or did not care about what was being addressed; so – honestly – yes, I did feel disturbed to an extent.”  

     He also indicated that the University may not be trying to do enough regarding this issue of inclusion on our college campus; however, he questions how it is “addressing” the issues.  As a result, Lockamy suggested “monthly meetings with smaller crowds so everyone could participate.”

     Even though the event was frustrating with the group size, it was successful in bringing in “332 students total, 11 percent of the University of Lynchburg’s student population,” according to Canida II.  

     Annette B. Stadtherr, the University’s Director of Multicultural Services, said that she “received two emails from the athletics department with positive feedback regarding the event.”

     Lockamy concluded, “I think whether or not you agree or disagree with the people who are facilitating you should listen and try your best to understand both sides of the situation before making assumptions about a situation. Also, remember everyone is not like you and they may not have been raised the same way, and we still must respect every single person’s opinion and ideas. 

     In order to highlight these issues on our campus, like Lockamy mentions, the University has created student positions called Student Diversity Liaisons (SDL).  There are four total, including Lockamy. Stadtherr expressed that this position is for students “to train and facilitate their own diversity and inclusion activities with organizations and events on-campus, as well as at other institutions.  For example, the four SDLs just returned back from the University of South Carolina, teaching a curriculum on concentric circles.

     Canida II also spoke about the Student Diversity Council and its help in collaborating with other campus and community organizations to create visions for diversity and inclusion at the University and wherever its students go following graduation. 

     Canida II and Stadtherr both insisted how “paramount the Office of Equity and Inclusion was to the University as well as for maturing students in general.”  The Office is meant to provide “educational opportunities for students and faculty about diversity and inclusion without judgement,” according to Canida II.