Thursday, Sept. 24 marked the second meeting of a five-part interactive series put on by Doane’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
The five virtual meetings make up Part One of the Doane Dialogues Racial Healing Series which encourages students, faculty, staff and administrators across Doane’s campuses to learn about race, racism and how to dismantle racism.
Luis Sotelo, Vice President of DEI, believes this series provides a number of benefits for those who participate in it.
“This series is giving our community a space to meaningfully learn together about how each of us can reduce racial inequities at Doane and in our society,” Sotelo said.
The series, which started at the end of July and into Aug., has seen an average of 53 participants, ranging from students to faculty and administrators.
The meetings use guided questions related to weekly readings to deepen one’s self-understanding and to learn about others and their struggles.
The program had such an impact that “...community members reached out and encouraged DEI to run the series again for a new cohort, [so] we opened up a second cohort where over 40 individuals signed up,” Sotelo said.
According to Sotelo, the end goal of this DEI program is to “see systemic and enduring change at Doane.”
The meetings start in one main Zoom session with a brief overview of the topics to be covered. A mix of students, staff, administrators, etc. are divided into breakout rooms, each with about half a dozen members.
From there, the group discusses the required reading for the session and answers questions based on the reading that invites them to share their own personal experiences and encourages the group to find solutions to racial issues.
Inclusivity is the target concept for these sessions, and allowing Doane to grow into a more conscious community is one of the main reasons why the series began.
“The series exists because systemic and individual racism persists in our communities, and we can all do our part to practice antiracism to expand equitable outcomes,” Sotelo said.
Sotelo believes these sessions have begun to improve Doane’s campus, stating: “I’ve seen examples of how our faculty, staff and students are taking these lessons and applying them to make a difference...Students who invest in becoming inclusive leaders will be better equipped to lead innovation, equity and excellence in our global society.”
DEI hopes to be one of many small factors that helps speed up change for the better, and, according to Sotelo, “While institutional change doesn’t happen overnight, we are becoming more inclusive community members so that Doane University can be a more welcoming, fair and just place.”