Subcommittee Strives to Create an Inclusive Campus

Goal 1 subcommittee hosts events to strengthen diversity and inclusion at ARCC.

By Ashley Johnson
Staff Writer

The Goal 1 Diversity and Inclusion subcommittee posed a question on the psychology club whiteboard in March that elicited some unexpected responses. Since then, the subcommittee has been hosting more events to create a more inclusive environment for students. 

They posed the question, “What can I do to create a more inclusive campus?” 

Some of the initial answers were partially or completely erased by other students. Photo Credit: Jack Yates

Students responded with answers such as, “Make America gay again,” which then was changed to the political slogan, “Make America great again.” Other responses said, “Never ever hate,” to which someone replied “JK, not really.”  

Some students did not understand the question posed by the subcommittee, so they answered with things that ARCC could do, not the students themselves, such as providing free food and nap rooms. The whiteboard was erased entirely after just two days.  

Then, even without being prompted, students still continued the discussion on the whiteboard.  

Students continued a heated discussion about inclusion on the whiteboard. Photo Credit: Jack Yates

Student Greg Elvik commented, “Rationale: growing thicker skin and not being offended leads to the free flow of information which then leads to an inclusive environment.” 

An anonymous student responded, “This statement makes almost zero sense because the “free flow of information” has nothing to do with inclusiveness. If anything, the growing of thicker skin discourages those on campus who don’t feel included to keep their struggles hidden, rather than allow them to be dealt with openly. We can actually help unincluded parties by offering more resources and safe spaces for them.” 

The committee also placed these mirror clings in the bathrooms on both campuses with the goal of having students take selfies with them to post on social media. However, those directions did not appear to be clearly communicated anywhere to students at Cambridge campus, leaving them to wonder what “D & I Campaign 2019” referred to on the mirror clings.  

The intention was to have students take mirror selfies with the “D & I Campaign 2019” mirror clings, but students did not receive that message. Photo Credit: Jack Yates

After the responses received on the whiteboard and the lack of response from the mirror clings, the subcommittee created the conversation fair, which took place on May 1. This event included a tabling with several people from different backgrounds, such as those with experiences related to mental health, alcoholism, disabilities and domestic abuse. One conversation fair participant, Kelsey Boden, commented, “It’s a passion for me to end the stigma with mental illness.” 

Subcommittee member Elise Kazmerzak said, “We wanted to provide more of an opportunity for dialogue and the face-to-face interaction the whiteboard did not give you. This way we can learn about our differences in a respectful way.” 

In their monthly meeting on May 10, the subcommittee talked about further plans for events at Cambridge campus. This fall, they are planning on having an alumni panel with different speakers of different backgrounds. The panel will include one specific question posed to both attending alumni and current students: “What challenges do you face as a student at Anoka-Ramsey?” This can help the subcommittee gauge what students need in order to succeed and feel more included. “We have some students who go through their whole time at AR who do not feel included, but we do not know or hear about it,” said subcommittee chair Corey Hemphill. 

The committee will resume its work in the fall, continuing to split into several subcommittees with different goals. Goal 1 is “Ensuring a supportive, inclusive, and empowering environment.” The rest of the short term and long-term goals are listed in a 17-page packet about the subcommittees. The committee is open to anybody who wants to join; an email with further information will be sent out to students and staff this fall.