Marketing & Communications  


October 24, 2005 - For the first time in West Michigan higher education, student leaders from the region’s colleges and universities will meet in a day-long diversity symposium designed to address issues of diversity, cultural competence and inclusion in educational environments. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, October 25, 2005, beginning at 9 a.m. in Aquinas College's Donnelly Center, 159 Woodward Avenue, between East Fulton and Robinson Road S.E.

Immediately preceding the student leader symposium, at 8:30 a.m., the presidents of West Michigan's colleges/universities will gather in the Donnelly Center to reaffirm their support for the Campus Diversity Compact they initialed three years ago. The brief gathering will also include remarks from several of them about their respective campus initiatives.

The Diversity Compact was designed to reinforce the leadership roles university/college presidents take in supporting various diversity initiatives, not only on their campuses but throughout the West Michigan region. The Compact pledged that college/university presidents would work together to: share efforts and resources; support the activities of other institutions; engage in appropriate reciprocal partnerships with the broader community; hold one another accountable to these goals; and cooperate in concrete ways to promote anti-racist and multicultural efforts. Their goal is to ensure that the institutions of higher education actively contribute to the efforts in West Michigan to affirm, respect and embrace people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds

The members of the higher education leadership in West Michigan meet regularly to provide updates on the diversity efforts that have been implemented at their respective institutions since signing the compact in March 2002. The October 25 student workshop is one of those efforts.

Oscar Perry, a training specialist and project manager for the Woodrick Institute for the Study of Racism and Diversity at Aquinas, will lead the workshop. He says the program is designed "to create a thought-provoking experience that challenges the student leaders to be more intentional about acceptance and inclusion, create new 'mental models' and turn mindless intolerance into mindful inclusion."

"Students will also gain awareness for success in a global society and strategies for effective cross cultural and interpersonal communication," he adds.

Finally, he says students will have the opportunity to explore the impact of age, gender, abilities, values, lifestyles, socio-economic status and other areas of diversity in an evolving society. The goal is to help students appreciate and respect individuality.

The colleges/universities involved are: Aquinas College (GR), Baker College (Muskegon), Calvin College (GR), Cooley Law School (Grand Rapids), Cornerstone University (GR), Davenport University (GR), Ferris State University (GR), Grace Bible College (GR), Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University (Allendale), Hope College (Holland), Kendall School of Art and Design (GR), Muskegon Community College, Reformed Bible College (GR) and Western Michigan University (GR).