Understanding complex questions of identity, race and inclusion, as well as the affect that implicit bias can have on our interactions with others, are just two of the goals of a race and equity workshop being held this Sunday for Whitman's new first-year students.
The workshop—which was first organized by resident assistants five years ago—is now a formal part of orientation organized by the Office of Residence Life and the Intercultural Center.
"The goals are ambitious, but it's a starting point that fits perfectly with our mission to create a more inclusive environment for our students," said Maggi Banderas '05, assistant director of the Intercultural Center. Other aims are "to create a community culture that embraces intersectionality, to develop a common language to talk about race-related issues, to understand the reality of racism and white privilege, and to begin to develop tools to intervene during harmful interactions."
During this year's workshop, students in the Class of 2021 will hear remarks from Banderas, Assistant Director of the Intercultural Center Adam Kirtley and Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Kazi Joshua and take on several group activities.
"Recognizing that students come from a variety of geographical locations and experiences, it is important for Whitman to provide a common language and set of expectations about inclusion and diversity," Joshua said. "It also makes it clear to incoming students that we expect these kinds of conversations to become fully a part of their liberal arts education."
Enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion is one of five strategic priorities, approved by Whitman's Board of Trustees, that will guide the campus's efforts over the coming years. The others are: increasing access and affordability; innovating the curriculum; connecting to life after Whitman; and celebrating the college's location in Southeastern Washington.