Campus members undergo training to promote diversity at Marietta

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While every student wants to be a standout at college, no one wants to be singled out.

Marietta College is dedicated to fostering a safe and accepting environment for all students and employees. Part of that commitment is providing the tools needed to combat bias and discrimination. In December, members of the faculty and staff underwent a weeklong seminar that explored how to effectively promote diversity and how to recognize and discourage bias and discrimination. The Anti-Defamation League offered the extensive training session, A Campus of Difference, to 24 Marietta College employees.

Marietta College is a second home to about 1,400 full-time students who hail from more than 40 states and 20 different countries. One of the goals of the strategic plan, Focused on Distinction, is to “increase the geographic and racial/ethnic diversity of the College’s graduating classes — 10 percent of graduating classes American minority by 2015.”

Leanne Price, visiting instructor in the Modern Languages Department, teaches English as a Second Language and was one of the faculty members participating in the seminar.

“I see my students struggle to be more included in campus life,” Price says. “If there is a way to facilitate a more welcoming and accepting environment for all students, then I’d like to be a part of that evolution at Marietta.”

Two facilitators from the Anti-Defamation League led the seminar, which helped participants learn how to recognize situations where bias and discrimination are present. The facilitators also helped to equip them with the skills needed to address those types of situations without isolating individuals even further.

“After this training, they’re fully qualified to deliver the module of the Campus of Difference Program to campus,” says Dr. Richard Danford, Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion at Marietta. “They can do anti-bias training on campus. The ultimate goal is to develop the certification program for employees and students so they can have the credentials to add to their resume or co-curricular resume that they’ve been through this training.”

The College has a three-year license agreement with the program, which means the new trainers are certified to teach the workshop for that length of time before recertification becomes necessary.

“So in the spring, we will open up the opportunity to go through the training, which will be provided by members of campus,” Danford says. “Those participants won’t be qualified trainers, but they will be recognized as having gone through the session.”

The Office of Diversity & Inclusion was established in 2011 and focuses on developing strategic plans, policies, programs and services that improves the recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff from diverse and under-represented groups. The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 and is, according to its website, “the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency … (that) fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.”

Last summer, Sarah Snow ’13 (Hazel Green, Ala.) spent more than a week in Israel learning about the culture, the Middle Eastern conflict and the peace process with 17 other students from around the U.S. thanks to a full-scholarship provided by the Anti-Defamation League.

“I think that Marietta College’s decision to partake in the ‘A Campus of Difference’ program offered by the ADL is a beneficial and proactive approach to ensuring that all past, current and future students have every reason to feel at home and secure on our campus,” Snow says. “It is important that all members of our College community have an equal opportunity to engage in diverse programming, open dialogue and free thinking without fear that a fellow student or administrator will react with hate or bigotry toward their beliefs. The training that the ADL will provide our campus with will help us reach that point.”

She is excited the organization is also helping educate members of Marietta’s campus on ways to promote diversity and inclusion.

“Based on my experiences with the ADL, I know they have proven experience and are a positive force,” Snow says. “Being involved in their programming is something that has bettered my life in the past, and something I know can better our campus community if we let it. For this reason, I would be happy to participate in the program and I encourage all of my friends and peers to embrace it as well.”

GI SMITH