New program emphasizes diversity on campus

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Student Affairs has collaboratively created a program intended to incentivize diversity and promote “The Art and Science of Inclusivity.”

Spearheaded by Lou Ann Gilchrist, Vice President of Student Affairs, the program outlines events that tackle diversity and inclusivity, which individuals and organizations can attend to accrue points toward various certificates and prizes.

Gilchrist says she had been watching the events linked to racial tension at the University of Missouri and across the country transpire. She says she wanted to give Truman State students opportunities to talk about issues regarding differences and also give theoretical background about how to have those necessary conversations. From there, she says Student Affairs got together to talk about the approach they would like to take in facilitating that programming, and the Art and Science of Inclusivity program was born.

“We have a lot of programming that already goes on that deals with cultural intelligence and helping people to appreciate different groups — anything from the international student dinner to Black History Month to the Martin Luther King celebration …” Gilchrist says. “We thought, ‘What could we do to provide an incentive to … get people to think about a lot of different things around the idea of inclusivity.”

Individuals can get a certificate on their co-curricular record and earn scholarship prizes by attending at least 12 events in a semester and writing a short reflection on what they learned, while organizations can earn recognition and scholarships by having the most individuals earn the Inclusivity Certificate, according to the program webpage.

The Multicultural Affairs Center, which already provides many diversity programs, is one of the organizations whose events will count toward this program, MAC director Carol Bennett says.

From the MLK service day earlier in January to the Social Justice Summit in April, the MAC hosts a plethora of events that encourage a conversation about the idea of inclusivity and diversity, Bennett says.

“I think Truman does try to be a diverse campus as much as it possibly can” Bennett says. “Our location really hinders us. But the inclusive part, I think there’s great strides made to be inclusive. We have Prism, we have a variety of underrepresented students who are in organizations, and for the most part, the student organizations at Truman are very welcoming.”

Bennett says the program was mainly about getting students to attend the diversity and inclusivity programming already available at Truman. She says she thought her role in helping to promote inclusivity and diversity on campus is as an educator.

“[My role is] teaching the campus what it means to be diverse and what it means to be inclusive,” Bennett says.

University President Troy Paino says the goals of the Art and Science of Inclusivity program aligns well with the overall goals around diversity and inclusion, as well as the goals of the Strategic Planning Committee on Inclusive Excellence.

“I think [the program] aligned very well with the goals … to have a campus-wide conversation about, certainly the importance of diversity, but how we can become a more inclusive community and balance that with also being a place where we want to have a free exchange of ideas and a place where people can talk freely about what they believe in,” Paino says.

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About Ingrid Roettgen 19 Articles
Ingrid a senior and the current Digital Director of the Truman Media Network. She has been working for TMN for 4 years. She can be contacted at tmn@truman.edu.