Thursday marked the first meeting of the brand new Diversity Fellowship Program. The program takes place in COM 319 every week through October and involves guest speakers, discussions and activities about diversity and inclusion on campus and in the lives of students and staff.
Student Life Coordinator Leila Jacobs came up with the idea for the program along with Mindy Kinnaman, manager of Student Life & Learning Development, and will be setting up and leading the program each week.
“We started developing the idea in … [the] fall semester of last year. … It came from a meeting that we had attended at … the KU Edwards Campus … They had been talking about … mentorship programs they have there … I was like, ‘We should think of a way to … merge the mentorship/leadership program with the things that we’re doing with multicultural issues. The other part of it was, Student Senate had hosted a series of discussions about inclusion on campus as well, and we had gotten really positive feedback from students about the things that were discussed there … and we thought maybe it was important to have a more formalized program where people could talk about those issues.”
Thursday’s meeting included Jacobs and Kinnaman discussing the topic of identity. Both leaders and those in attendance filled out a chart mapping out the different things they identify as and how they affect their lives. The meeting’s activities also included a “privilege walk” where participants are asked a series of questions about the privileges they have and step forwards or backwards depending on their answer.
Student Brandon Nonprasit attended the first meeting after being invited by a friend.
“The idea of diversity programs sound interesting to me because I’ve always been well into diversity,” said Nonprasit. I love diversity, it’s something I grew up with … I kind of was scared it was going to be like pointing fingers at people like, ‘You’re so privileged…,’ but it was very fun.”
Rhiannon Minster also attended Thursday’s meeting and enjoyed its focus on group discussions.
“I thought it would be like, ‘Here is a Powerpoint, here are our ideas,’ but I like the fact it’s discussion and you actually to talk to people about their experiences,” said Minster.
Students and faculty who would like more information about the program can call or visit the Center for Student Involvement or stop by before the meeting each Thursday at 12:30 p.m.