Salisbury University has released its new mandatory online diversity training program for the campus community following turbulent months of racially charged incidents across campus.
The training, titled “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Students,” is broken into two sections, with the first an estimated 40-minute training course and the second a short survey. The training program may be accessed and completed here.
Every SU student must complete the training by the March 15 deadline, according to the university’s training email sent to the campus community.
The training for the university’s faculty is expected to include more modules for teaching in a diverse and inclusive environment in addition to the sections taken by students.
“We [at SU] believe in the importance of creating a safe and healthy environment for all of our community members,” read the preview to the courses. “These trainings, in addition to being highly interactive and engaging, are based in research around the best practices for healthy communities.”
Dorien Rogers, the director of diversity and inclusion for the university’s Student Government Association, took part in the training’s pilot trial before the program was released to the rest of the campus community.
Rogers and the rest of the SGA’s executive board provided feedback after the pre-trial demo to SU’s Chief Diversity Officer Joan Williams, who assisted in developing the training in partnership with third-party vendor EVERFI.
Rogers hopes the training helps to eliminate the mindset that individuals must be rewarded for displaying compassion and being inclusive.
“Although you may not be a person of color or have a disability [and] you may not understand how [a marginalized] person is feeling, you can still empathize with that person, and that’s what I want to see out of this training,” Rogers said.
The new diversity training program comes in the aftermath of a racial reckoning both across the nation as well as at SU, with the university facing repeated attacks of racially charged vandalism over the last 18 months.
An inferred noose was also found on campus grounds in September, sparking outrage across the campus community until a campus police-led investigation found the object to be a bird feeder support infrastructure installed by the SU Biology Department.
In an attempt to prevent future racially charged attacks and improve campus diversity, SU’s President’s Office made the Office of Diversity and Inclusion its own independent body and created the position of chief diversity officer, which would eventually be filled by Joan Williams. A special task force was also established to aid in developing initiatives for the office to improve campus diversity and support.
Rogers said the growing demand across campus for diversity training has been building steadily through recent months and encourages the university to continue working towards a more inclusive community.
“If we call ourselves an institution of higher learning [at SU], empathy is a large component of that,” Rogers said. “Hopefully this training can serve as a first step towards implementing bigger initiatives.”
By JAKOB TODD
Featured image courtesy of Rainmaker.