Submitted by Ekta Singh, Senior Advisor, EDI + Belonging
"Conversations are one of the most powerful ways to ignite change. It takes courage to come forward and share one’s story. For this reason, it was important that the task force begin our EDI needs assessment by centering and amplifying the voices of various designated equity groups at SLC.
January and February 2021 were busy months for the Belonging and EDI task force. We launched our 16 'Courageous Conversation' listening tours and conducted the College’s first Equity Census. At the heart of these initiatives was creating the opportunity for the SLC community to share their story of belonging at SLC.
The Courageous Conversation sessions were attended by over 170 individuals and were designed for student and staff/faculty members groups across all three campuses. The purpose of these sessions was to create a supportive space to get to know one another, share experiences around inclusion and belonging, and provide recommendations on how the College can continue to grow in these areas. Each session was facilitated by members of the task force and had two notetakers who were tasked with the important responsibility of transcribing the conversations. Additionally, every session was opened with a warm welcome from the President and CEO of the College, Glenn Vollebregt.
These Courageous Conversations did more than just foster powerful dialogue and learning; they created spaces of community and support for equity groups and allies alike. We witnessed students, who began as strangers with their peers at the session, becoming friends and exchanging contact details with one another; we witnessed staff and faculty from tri-campus communities collaborating and acting as supports for each other; and, we witnessed deep introspection, where attendees began to process and question their own biases and how this may have impacted their daily lives and work with students and staff.
Open, authentic, truthful dialogue, in an atmosphere of trust and respect, is the key ingredient that makes meaningful change possible, and we thank each of you who have joined us on this important journey. We, as a task force, have also reflected on how we can improve in organizing and delivering these sessions in the future and have appreciated the feedback from many of you.
The stories and experiences shared at the sessions, along with data collected from the Equity Census, the CLT (College Leadership Team) and Dean’s Council EDI Self-assessment tool, and one-on-one interviews with various members of SLC leadership will be the foundation on which we build our recommendations. The EDI recommendation report is planned for delivery to the College executive team in early May. I invite everyone to think about the role they play in ensuring the values of belonging (and equity, diversity, and inclusion) permeates the culture of SLC."
There is still time to share your voice.