Although it is not yet well-known to the College community, the Inclusion Initiative by the Office of Intercultural Education has been well in the works since Fall 2019. According to Inés Maturana Sendoya, Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion and Engagement, its goals are to enhance students’ understanding of power, privilege and oppression in their lives and society, engage students in difficult dialogues to facilitate authenticity and enable students to effectively live in a diverse world. The Initiative has come into fruition with 13 student Community Inclusion Facilitators (CIFs), a group of peers who have received intense training to facilitate conversations as part of the Initiative, beginning to engage with various groups on campus.
In addition to power and privilege, other topics covered by the Inclusion Initiative include racism and whiteness, disability and ability, socioeconomic class, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration awareness, and allyship. These topics were chosen because they address what Sendoya found was lacking at the College: the ability to interact across areas of difference and have conversations surrounding social justice.
“Through my Listening Tour, I learned that students were looking for those more formal opportunities [to discuss these topics], but they were not available. These conversations foster community and understanding across areas of difference and build their intercultural competence,” Sendoya said.
The 75-minute Inclusion workshops that CIFs are currently conducting have been presented to groups like resident assistants, Davis Museum tour guides and Alternative Break leaders. However, any student organization can request a workshop by contacting either Sendoya or Karen Shih, Assistant Dean of Intercultural Education.
“We hope the workshops will meet the learning outcomes we set up for them and help the students engage in these difficult dialogues to better understand each other and hopefully leave the College as individuals who can help create inclusive spaces wherever they go,” Sendoya said.