A new, interactive online educational module will help George Washington University students learn about diversity, equity and inclusion and GW’s expectations for its community.
The module, now launched, is required for all current and incoming first-year undergraduate students, who received more information by email Thursday.
“GW is a place filled with potential, and we are collaborating across the community to make sure we are working toward a more inclusive GW,” said Caroline Laguerre-Brown, vice provost for diversity, equity and community engagement. “With this module, we want to do more than ‘train’ people. We are committed to building a foundation for first-year students that offers language, tools and resources for students to engage in thoughtful conversations about diversity, identity and inclusion.”
The module features video stories from students who face discrimination in their everyday lives, explaining how it affects them. It also shows student actors experiencing or discussing racism and bias and asks students to reflect on how they would respond in real time to certain situations.
Themes addressed include individuals’ identities and the complexities of having multiple identities; power, privilege and oppression; and creating a culture of respect and open communication. Students review definitions, respond to prompts and complete assessments to gauge their knowledge of the material.
Many students said last year that the training was an important step the university should take to help all students feel welcomed on campus. During its first year, the module should be viewed as a “pilot program,” Ms. Laguerre-Brown said, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement wants feedback from students to continue to make improvements. The office will continue to evolve the curriculum based on the campus and national climate.
For students joining the GW community, the module is just one of many discussions and reflection opportunities they will have surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion in and out of the classroom, Ms. Laguerre-Brown added.
The module is one of several ways GW has continued to respond to student concerns about inclusion on campus.
This semester the university has just launched a new website for reporting incidents of bias. The site allows any university community member to report, including anonymously, incidents of bias and other forms of unwelcome conduct motivated by hatred based on race, color, religion, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin or any other factor.
Reports to the site alert the university to a person or group involved with an incident, allowing the appropriate staff from the Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) to respond with individualized support depending on the situation. Other resources are available for students who want to file a formal complaint or request an investigation of an incident.
Meanwhile, efforts to increase staff resources and expertise continue.
Jordan West joined GW last year as the director for diversity and inclusion education. She is a formally trained social justice educator and has been part of national opportunities to facilitate discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Dr. West is responsible for developing a more systemic and institutionalized approach to education and sustained change on campus. Dr. West develops ongoing workshops for students, faculty and staff about diversity, cultural competence, intercultural communications, anti-racism, unconscious bias, equity and other topics.