A Petition for Mandated Cultural Competency Training
We, the undersigned students, staff, and faculty of Illinois Wesleyan University, ask that faculty take initiative in structurally and substantially promoting diversity and inclusion university wide. We ask that faculty, staff and students be required to complete at least annual cultural competency trainings with measurable assessment in order to:
- Understand microaggressions and their impact on students, staff, and faculty;
- Be sensitive to the different backgrounds and experiences of students, staff, and faculty
- Be better allies and not be bystanders to racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise prejudicial or discriminatory behaviors and attitudes.
Implementing such a program would show a continued commitment to the university's mission surrounding diversity and inclusion and would create richer learning environments and inclusive experiences for students, staff, and faculty from all backgrounds.
During the 9/26/2018 diversity forum surrounding the vandalism of various Black Lives Matter posters across campus, one faculty member asked, “how bad is it?” (in reference to prejudicial and discriminatory behavior/attitudes across campus, including racial insensitivity).
To answer, since fall of 2015, we have witnessed the following:
- Prejudiced behaviors and comments toward underrepresented groups
- Defacement of Aspiration Fountain with a horrible racial slur(s)
- Vandalism and defacement of Muslim Student Association posters in the Memorial Center
- Removal of DACA posters across campus
- Anti-black vandalism in Presser Hall and residence halls
- Anti-semitic and xenophobic vandalism in Presser Hall and across campus
- “Clean up your shit” crudely translated into Chinese (in response to a mess left in a dorm kitchen)
- “The niggers have arrived” commented towards Black students at fraternity events
- Microaggressions perpetrated by faculty, staff and classmates
- Deliberate compartmentalization of diversity issues which inherently intersect (i.e., just talking about sexual assault, just talking about race/ethnicity, just talking about gender, etc) - in classrooms, in extracurriculars, and in casual conversation with professors
- Administrative tendencies toward defensiveness and “explaining away” the issues marginalized students face
This is not an exhaustive list, but a list of the incidents which have recently received campus-wide attention; there are undeniably more. We need more than simple declarations of support. We need an institutional commitment to change, accountability, and actively anti-prejudicial behaviors.