Office of Diversity and Inclusion to offer DEI and Racial Equity Workshops
Over the course of the next couple of months, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion here at Canisius will be offering two diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and Racial Equity Workshops. The first workshop will address ways to be an effective ally of the LGBTQIA+ community, and the other one will address the history and perspective of Indigenous people.
This will be the third straight year of events such as these being held at Canisius. We talked to Fatima Rodriguez Johnson, associate dean of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and one of the head organizers of the workshops. Rodriguez Johnson said, “Since the fall of 2019, we’ve been trying to provide people opportunities to engage in dialogue … [and to] challenge their own views and perspectives.”
The goal of the workshops is to provide people with an opportunity to educate themselves about the different perspectives that can be found within the community, which would — as Johnson said — “increase people’s capacity to engage in meaningful interactions with all members of our campus and our community in which we serve and live.”
The realization of the necessity for further education has been made all the more clear throughout the past couple of years, Rodriguez Johnson said. “In the last few years, we have learned a lot about the experiences of black and brown people. With COVID, there was a lot of anti-Asian hate, we know that there are experiences that people have had because of their identity.” This. she said, adds a whole new level of importance to the lessons that are to be taught at the workshops.
These events work in conjunction with the goals that Canisius has as a Jesuit institution, seeing as one of the Jesuit principles is social justice. And while that is a value held at Canisius, the workshops are also a response to a climate survey filled out by students a few years ago, in which students answered questions about the general atmosphere of campus, such as whether or not people feel welcome, represented and that they fit in, among other things of the sort.
Over 800 responses were part of that survey, and it is these surveys that the workshops are in response to. One of the ideas in beginning these events three years ago was to allow students to think that the school “listened to me, they took it seriously, and they are trying to do something about it,” Rodriguez Johnson said.
The first workshop will be discussing what it means to be LGBTQIA+, as well as how to be an effective ally. It will be presented by the Pride Center of WNY and will be held from 3-5 p.m. on Oct. 27 at the Grupp Fireside Lounge. The second workshop open to students discusses Native American history and culture, and it will cover topics that are generally looked over in education. It will be an interactive Zoom meeting held by NOON (Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation) and facilitators from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy: the event will be held on Nov. 29.
More information will be available in time via social media and Canisius Life. All students are invited and wanted.