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Cultural competency workshops to be hosted by CDI

Ryan Secard

Staff Writer

Last Thursday, Sept. 13, members of student organizations received an email from Director of Lowry Center and Student Services Julia Zimmer announcing the first in a series of cultural competency workshops, hosted by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI).

The Elevate Series of workshops will take place throughout the year, with two workshops each month. According to Associate Dean for CDI Shadra Smith, each month’s workshops will relate to a relevant theme. The September meetings are titled “Marginalized, Minoritized, and Multicultural,” and the workshops in Oct. will relate to LGBTQIA+ history to commemorate LGBTQIA+ History Month. “With the cultural competence workshops, we’re just giving a little presentation on the branch of CDI that’s presenting each month,” said Smith. The September meetings were run by  CDI’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

As for why the workshops are spread out across the whole year, Smith emphasized that cultural competency was more of a process, explaining, “one workshop will not make a student culturally competent.” Smith reiterated a statement from the email announcement that the workshops are not “training sessions,” but she encouraged students to attend existing training programs already hosted by CDI, like their Safe Zone training program.

The workshops are, in part, a response to last spring’s Galpin Call-in, where one item of listed students demands was mandatory, campus-wide cultural competency training.

Despite this, Zimmer’s email stated that the meetings were “highly encouraged” for student organization leaders, but not mandatory. Smith acknowledged that the workshops are specifically aimed at student group leaders, but are not limited to them. “[The workshops are] absolutely, totally open—they are open to all students on campus,” she said. After the Galpin Call-in last year, she said, more student organization leaders approached members of the CDI and asked about how they could be more culturally competent. “We’re giving a variety of ways in which groups can engage,” said Smith.

Program Coordinator Kim Green, who helped run the first two meetings of the workshop on Sept. 17 and 20, also saw the importance of a broad impact on campus. Speaking to any student organization leaders who might not see the importance of cultural competency to their organization, Green said, “I think the benefit could absolutely be internal,” but she outlined that the main benefit of the workshops was not designed to be limited to student organizations. “It benefits the Wooster community. We should all be more culturally competent,” she said. “It’s always good to have competent student leaders, but we just want a more culturally competent community.”

In response to complaints on the cultural competency training organized by the New Student Orientation Committee, Smith said that the Elevate Series workshop developers did share some members with the orientation committee, but that the programming would not be the same.

The main goal of the workshops, Smith says, is to encourage students and especially student leaders to pay more attention to questions involving different cultures and marginalized students. “We want [students] to think more deeply than what food you’re eating and where it’s from,” said Smith.

 

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