July 11, 2007

Diversity seminars available through SIUC office

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Whether you adhere to Webster's definition of diversity as "the condition of being different or having differences" the more expansive Encarta World Dictionary meaning "ethnic variety, as well as socioeconomic and gender variety, in a group, society or institution", or have a broader and more inclusive definition of your own, Southern Illinois University Carbondale maintains a long-standing commitment to diversity.

The University's Office of Diversity and Equity offers numerous options to educate those on campus about diversity and to celebrate the contributions of the many differing types of people at SIUC.

"We have training opportunities on a broad spectrum of topics," said Carmen Suarez, coordinator of diversity and equity.

Topics include racism, sexual orientation or gender identity, cultures, sexual harassment, eliminating hate and dealing with all types of diversity. The workshops, seminars and training are available for classrooms, workplaces, residence halls or wherever there's a need. Training targets staff, faculty or students.

Diversity 101 helps undergraduate and graduate students expand their knowledge of diversity, multiculturalism, pluralism, culture, affirmative action and the historical contexts. It even offers an interactive cultural scavenger hunt.

The Office of Diversity and Equity's other training topics include "Diversity Issues in Education", "Combating Racism", "Cultural Competency", "Affirmative Action: What it is and What it is Not", "Stop the Hate", Sexual Harassment Training", "Diversifying Your Staff/Faculty" and "SIUC Hiring Policies and Procedures". Suarez offers customized programming too.

"We have many workshops, from the basics like Diversity 101, to more specific and focused and/or advanced explorations of various components that make up the very broad topic of diversity," Suarez said. Within SIUC, she notes that many faculty and staff are interested in diversity issues and some units conduct their own internal training and Suarez is "eager and willing to partner or assist in any way," she said.

Content, focus and depth of training vary according to the audience. Instruction can spotlight specific topics too, from combating sexism to addressing racism, from the diversity of Latinos to eliminating all types of gender and ethnicity bias. The office now channels sexual orientation questions or concerns to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center.

Replacing myths and discrimination with accurate information and practical application of diversity principles is the goal of the Office of Diversity and Equity and the services it provides at SIUC. For more information about the office and program opportunities, call 618/453-4807.