BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The Engaging Diversity program invites interested white students
from the incoming class to help them understand and meaningfully engage diversity
while at Illinois Wesleyan.
Participants are randomly selected from volunteer first-year students, who come to
campus three days early to participate in meetings and activities about diversity.
The 2012 program is scheduled Saturday-Monday, Aug. 18-20.
Assistant Professor of Sociology Meghan Burke and former faculty member Kira Hudson
Banks co-direct the program, which began in 2010.
“We want to give students a safe space to come together and be able to ask tough questions
about diversity, and how they as white students can play an active role in the campus
climate,” said Burke.
The students discuss the definitions and history of diversity, affirmative action
and college admissions, white privilege and racial identity and open communication
and dialogue. They also network with MALANA (Multiracial, African-American, Latino-American,
Asian- American, and Native American) students, international students and IWU faculty
“We focus a lot on racism but also talk about the intersectionality of our identity
affiliations,” said Banks. “Some of the students come in thinking we should all be
color blind and not see race. But then they are able to see how our society is constructed
around race, and they realize being color blind is not the answer. They realize that
seeing race is part of seeing who people are.”