The Department of Diversity and Institutional Partnerships’ Making Excellence Inclusive (MEI) discussion
The Department of Diversity and Institutional Partnerships is comprised of a committed team of people who seem to regard their jobs as being greater than their job descriptions or paychecks. On Wednesday, January 5, 2010, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Sonia Mañjon facilitated (and participated in) a discussion about MEI. The team began the conversation by attempting to define the scope of a discussion about diversity. Several people commented on the nature of diversity discussions and the difficulty some people have in discussing diversity from a personal perspective suggesting that perhaps it is easier to explore diversity using reflection and team-building activities. Other group members expressed concerns about the risks involved in disclosure of one’s personal background and other characteristics. The team discussed issues of vulnerability and trust, job insecurity, job descriptions, notions of professionalism, and inter-departmental dynamics. There seem to be team consensus that members of the Diversity and Strategic Partnerships’ Department have already begun the task of building trust and familiarity by holding monthly staff meetings and by participating in various social activities (including a potluck dinner and bowling). The team discussed the importance of continued conversation and interactions to deepen personal familiarity and empathy for one another among colleagues. Again the team acknowledged their personal and professional commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion and expressed concerns that perhaps some colleagues in other departments may resist the MEI initiative and its principles. Closing comments from members of the team included the following answers to the question, MEI is important to me because … “of my children; I want to get to know the people I work with and their values; I seek hope and balance and I want a better community; I want to be reinvested in the Wesleyan campus community like I was as a student; this is my alma mater and I came to work at Wesleyan for the same reason that I came to study here – the diversity and excellence; my increase professional productivity, health, and well-being are equally important to me; I grew up in a white homogeneous community and I look for opportunities to learn about other people and myself; I want to be more connected to the university; I like what I do and I like being a part of a collective.” The Department of Diversity and Intuitional Partnerships will engage in continued conversations about MEI.