Collegial Conversations Assist in Navigating Pandemic

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Amid the pandemic, the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity continues to offer education and training to promote diversity and build cultural competency. Three Collegial Conversations held via Zoom in the last two weeks engaged 220 NC State faculty and staff over the three sessions.

On May 20, 2020. Bridget Kelly, associate professor of student affairs at the University of Maryland, led a professional development workshop on “Facilitating Culturally Inclusive Meetings.” Kelly emphasized the importance of brave and safe spaces to facilitate these meetings. Brave spaces invite those who may not agree to voice their needs and experiences, while safe spaces establish trust when there is dissent.

Kelly suggested finding an “accountability partner” — someone who experiences the world differently from you by virtue of their role, title, position, or institutional characteristics — to provide honest, critical feedback and essentially hold you accountable. If you cannot find an accountability partner, Kelly recommends reading, researching and reflecting to understand and promote culturally inclusive environments.

Savitri Dixon-Saxon, vice provost for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Walden University, led the discussion May 26, 2020 on “Safety, Productivity and Stress: Managing Work, Self and Family in a Pandemic.”

Dixon-Saxon acknowledged both the advantages and disadvantages of working from home as a result of the pandemic and reminded workshop participants that these are unusual circumstances for everyone. She suggested establishing healthy work from home boundaries, communicating frequently with your supervisors and or employees, and focusing on physical and mental wellness.

“You can need a break working from home just as much as you need a break for your mental and physical wellness when you go in the office,” says Dixon-Saxon.

The most recent workshop, “The Identities Beyond Athlete,” on held June 3, 2020, led by Niya Blair Hackworth, director of inclusion in the NCAA’s Office of Inclusion, aimed to bring awareness to the realities and lived experiences of student-athletes, help participants understand the multiple identities that student-athletes hold, learn how COVID-19 has impacted these students, and identify resources and tools to foster community and offer support to these students.

Hackworth suggested that workshop participants work to foster education, engagement and empowerment; recognize how biases impact thoughts and behaviors; and refer student-athletes to mental health providers if needed.

OIED offers workshops and training throughout the year to create and maintain a campus community that is inclusive and welcoming for all.

Recordings and Slides

Missed the Conversations? Access recordings and slides below.

Jenna Nabors (she/her) is a fourth-year student majoring in communication and international studies and a Park Scholar. Share your thoughts about this article on Twitter at @NCStateOIED.