Posted by Kathy Petras | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-06-2009
So in developing training for my Orientation staff, one of the things my student directors brought up was doing a diversity session as part of training. It’s something we’ve never done during summer training, but more so a focus of our Fall welcome weekend training. I’m not exactly sure why, so it was definitely something I was excited about and willing to do. However, I am also the type of person that believes we should be having training sessions about things that have a purpose behind them. Not that I didn’t think this type of training had a purpose, but I wanted to see where the student directors were coming from.
They explained it was based on conversations with other students in terms of diversity, specifically dealing with GLBT students. (Which is a topic I am highly passionate about) One of my directors explained that they had to explain what GLBT was. What our Allies student group was all about. And even more specifically, what it meant to be “transgendered.” The students responded with a very tactless “drag queens?” comment, which is what spurred their desire to have this diversity session.
It really got me thinking though about how students don’t always understand the language they are using. One of my biggest pet peeves is why people say “That’s so gay!” ugh. I know that not everyone comes from the same background, or was raised in the same environment. Nor would I ever want them to be. But in terms of working in higher education, I feel it is extremely important to embrace all types of people. I don’t think that you have to necessarily agree with everyone (the world would be a lot less interesting if we did) but I think it’s a matter of understanding and respect that comes into play. Respect for others as well as ourselves. So I really think that when I talk with my staff about diversity that it’s going to really be a time of reflecting on themselves, their attitudes, their behaviors, etc. Talk about how language can easily affect what we are doing. How the jokes we may tell might seem funny to some people but are truly degrading to others. For myself I know that was something I needed to learn when I was growing up. And coming to college, I was put into an environment that was completely different to the one in which I was raised. However, I embraced that. I learned more about myself while learning about others. And I think that’s where I can have my students can a better understanding of how their attitudes & behaviors can affect them as leaders.