Skidmore Welcomes Workshops Targeting Diversity and Inclusion

Skidmore Welcomes Workshops Targeting Diversity and Inclusion

Cultural fluency has become increasingly vital in how people communicate with each other, especially when discussing sensitive topics. In response to this need, Skidmore College has chosen to continue “In It,” a diversity and inclusion program that began in April of 2016, dubbing this year’s events “In It 3” in honor of its third year. The program will start this Thurs., Oct. 11, and continue until the 12, providing the community with lectures and workshops on an array of topics from disrupting bias to a crash-course on structural integrity.

The “In It 3” workshops will follow the same guiding purpose the program has maintained since its inception: to raise Skidmore’s cultural fluency and create a stronger, more inclusive community. The program is coordinated in part by representatives from the college—who are chosen by the President’s VPs and cabinet members—and the Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding (CIGU).

This year, “In It” has moved away from having one large keynote speaker to providing individual workshops led by three invited presenters, in conjunction with community dialogues. Joshua Woodfork, the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity, said this decision was made to push community members to further engage with the topics discussed and to enhance their developing skill sets.

“We piloted the bias workshops in May 2018 with trainings for Campus Safety Officers and Admissions and Financial Aid readers,” explained Woodfork. “Based on the positive feedback we received from staff members, we decided to open this round up for students, staff and faculty. Skidmore’s Admissions Ambassadors participated in [one of the workshops] this fall and the feedback, according to Arian Vacs Renwick who coordinates the group, was positive.”

The three facilitators invited to Skidmore include Kimberly Rattley, who is leading a workshop on disrupting bias that finds its way into interactions and decision-making in work environments; Natalie Gillard, who will be presenting FACTUALITY, a facilitated dialogue, crash course and board game on structural inequality in America; and Lyndon Cudlitz, who will be giving both a presentation and interactive session concerning transgender identities in the classroom.

As for the process of deciding who would be invited to speak this year, Woodfork notes that they “were chosen by the Inclusion Liaisons, who are representatives from each of the College’s divisions.”

Crystal Moore, from Admissions and Financial Aid, was one of these chosen liaisons. When asked about the decision process, she explained: “It was a collaborative process that involved discussing how we believed the community would respond to each facilitator as well as considering what the community might need in terms of training and dialogue. We chose people and firms that had a positive track record with Skidmore.”

Alongside the three facilitators, this year’s “In It 3” event will be screening Class Divide, a 2005 HBO documentary that explores gentrification between two fictionalized worlds that exist at the same intersection. The film will hopefully spark a conversation surrounding income inequality and its effect within communities. There will also be a two-session series from University of Michigan’s CRLT Players, a theatre group that uses performance to initiate important conversations. The group will be focusing on bias and its effects on students and, more broadly, the college campus.

The series comes at an important time within the community and world beyond. “In It 3” will provide educative, guided presentations and workshops that are meant to reinforce the college’s focus on cultural fluency and engagement. As Woodfork said, “Hopefully community members participate, learn and continue to engage with diversity, inclusion and equity efforts.”

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