The Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (CMIE) program assistants hosted a workshop called “Looking Deeper into Our Values: Deciphering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” on Jan. 23 in the Sun Ballroom.
This was CMIE’s last workshop before it became the Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, named after Regent Glenn Taylor ’73 and his wife, Myretta Taylor, who gave $1 million dollars to the Center last year.
Taylor Center Intern Tamira Fuentes ’19 helped facilitate the workshop, along with Program Assistant Angel Ian Almaraz ’20 .
During the workshop, attending students, faculty and staff were divided into table groups. Each table was given an activity packet that helped guide a discussion on identity.
The packet aimed to prompt reflection on participants’ own diverse backgrounds, identities and the stereotypes associated with those identities, Fuentes said. It also sought to help participants identify how their backgrounds “come into context with St. Olaf.”
María C. Pabón Gautier, the new Director of Equity and Inclusion at St. Olaf, participated in these discussions.
“It was great because it put us at the same level of vulnerability, so we were all talking about not only our own ethnic backgrounds but also our personality traits that sometimes are tied to our culture,” Pabón said.
32 people attended the workshop. Only five of these attendees were students. The rest were faculty and staff members.
“We had hoped to have more students so students could talk about their experience here at St. Olaf to faculty and staff members, because then faculty can then change the way that they approach their classes and their classroom settings and staff members can then continue to do the work that they’ve been doing in order to make this a more equitable place,” Fuentes said.
Still, the event went smoothly, Fuentes said. “Everyone was willing to participate and share.”
“I was surprised, but in a very positive way, to see so much faculty and staff be in a room wanting to learn about this topic and be so open about it,” Pabón said.
The program assistants made sure to have one student at each table.
“The students at the table, they were the leaders, they were the teachers,” Pabón said.
The event was held in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“The goal of this event was to show how people are trying to achieve that sense of equity here on campus,” Fuentes said. “St. Olaf really likes to push this sense of community, but it excludes community members. So how do we begin to challenge that notion of community? How can we redefine community so that it’s flexible and it lasts enough to fit everyone so it’s not that precreated mold of ‘this is what an Ole is’?”