WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 6, 2017)—“How can we make this relevant to students or give them information that will help them as they continue to develop?”
That’s the question asked by the Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement, led by Ketwana Schoos, as it provides diversity programming to Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students, among its other functions of hosting larger campus activities, leadership development and student organization programming.
The office has gone through its own evolution over the years as it works to achieve this goal.
“When I joined the department five years ago, it wasn’t a part of the Division of Student Life, like it is now, and didn’t have the same focus on diversity and leadership initiatives it has today,” said Ketwana, Assistant Dean of Student Life for Inclusive Campus Engagement.
As a part of this growth, the office developed the Point of View discussion series, which gives students an opportunity to meet and connect on various topics surrounding diversity and inclusion that are important on our campus as well as in the world at large.
“When you get in those heated discussions and you walk away and people are yelling and screaming, then it hasn’t been a productive conversation. Students wanted to be able to articulate their thoughts and feelings in a way that their passions could be redirected and they could engage in a conversation that’s meaningful for everyone at the table,” Ketwana said.
And while the Point Of View discussions get the ball rolling for open communication between diverse peers, celebrations of culture and campus groups give everyone a chance to comfortably be themselves on campus.
The office has highlighted cultural heritage with programs for Hispanic Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, Black History Month and Women’s History Month, as well as planning events and bringing in speakers to showcase these communities. They also work with the Black Student Union, Latino Cultural Association, Asian Cultural Association, Hillel (which honors Jewish culture on campus), and the Gay Straight Alliance, among other clubs and organizations, to provide a place for people of diverse backgrounds to connect on campus.
As Ketwana notes, it’s important to remember that none of us are all one thing. We come from colorful backgrounds, and The Office of Inclusive Campus Engagement wants students to be able to share that culture with their W&J family.
“We’re talking about what ‘multicultural’ means. Break culture down to its purest form, and you see it’s music, it’s the food we eat, it’s the language we speak. That’s the “multi” piece of it. We embody multiple things—our race, our religion, our political beliefs, just to name a few,” Ketwana said. “Diversity just means that differences exist, but we’re all a part of this community.”
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.
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