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 and staff.
“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.”