The Diversity Equity and Inclusion Office hosted its first Bearcat Dialogue for faculty and staff in the Student Union Ballroom Sept 25.
The topic of the first Bearcat Dialogue was ‘intersectionality.’ Intersectionality is the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class and gender as they apply to a given individual or group regarded as creating, overlapping and intradependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion Adam Gonzales allowed staff members to give their definition of intersectionality. He then described how the term was coined by lawyer, civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory Kimberlé Crenshaw.
Gonzales stood before 21 faculty and staff members as he tried to create a safe place for them by sharing his past experiences.
“The goal was to create a space for people to have open and honest dialogue about topics that very seldom come up in our daily lives, but are apart of every aspect of our daily lives.” Gonzales said.
Faculty intensively analyzed a social identity wheel worksheet that was in front of them as they ranked how they identified themselves versus how they feel society views them.
Multimedia Specialist for Northwest Brandon Bland reflected on the dialogue.
“There is a lot of embedded things that we don’t think about, me specifically being a male, that I don’t think about in my everyday routine,” Bland said. “I just need to be more mindful and thoughtful of those around me and the privilege I possess and how I can use that to the benefit of others.”
Faculty members also discussed with their tables how intersectionality differs between students faculty and staff and residents outside of the community. Gonzales gave everyone a chance to share their experiences.
Senior Instructor Jill Baker said she feels women may have made it acceptable to be mistreated.
“I think somehow we’ve made it acceptable in society microaggressions against females, much like there are many microaggressions against many marginalized populations that become acceptable,” Baker said. “It fascinates me that in 2019, we’re still having that conversation about male (and) female microaggression.”
Internship Coordinator Travis Kline said he is pleased that DEI is hosting these dialogues.
“I always enjoy a chance to get to have conversations like that with other folks in the University,” Kline said. “I really appreciate that DEI gives us the opportunity to do that as staff members–to come together and serve our students better.”
The next Bearcat Dialogue is scheduled for Oct. 23, but is subject to change.