By Tia Sprengel, Editor-In-Chief
Nobody likes to be picked last for the kickball team. Nobody likes to be the last one in class without a partner. But most of all, nobody likes to feel alienated on their own college campus. To make sure this exclusion doesn’t happen at Illinois Wesleyan University, the Residence Hall Association is hosting IWU’s first Inclusion Week from Monday, Feb. 4 to Friday, Feb. 8.
“The reason that we decided to create this IWU Inclusion Week is because we saw a need for opening a dialogue about diversity and inclusion on campus,” RHA president Max Renner said. “We thought that this would be a good way to address that need.”
To kick off Inclusion Week, RHA will be putting a postcard in each student’s mailbox. Modeled on Post-Secret, these postcards will allow students to anonymously share secrets with the entire campus. All they have to do is fill out the postcard and slip it into the outgoing university mail any time throughout the week. The comments will then be put onto a Tumbler that every IWU student will be able to access.
“It is a perfect opportunity to address similarities and differences among the issues that each IWU student encounters on campus,” RHA secretary Genyl Rufino said. “It will hopefully foster a sense of cohesive community within this institution.”
Following the Post-Secret program, RHA will be hosting a Privilege Walk in the Joslin Atrium at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Run by assistant professor of sociology Meghan Burke and featuring a talk by professor of physics Narendra Jaggi, the event will present a visual representation of where people start out in their lives just based on random circumstances.
Students will all begin at the same point and will then be asked a series of questions, such as whether their parents are divorced or whether their parents attended college. Depending on their answers, students will be asked to take a step forward, stay still, or take a step backward. The end result will hopefully allow students to see themselves and the others around them in a new light.
“We are hoping that this privilege walk will give students the opportunity to learn more about some of the things that people don’t always think about and take for granted. We want this to be a fun experience so that people can discover more about one another and themselves,” Renner said.
The last event of the week is Conversations in the Dark, which will take place in the Davidson Room at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7. The event will feature a panel of campus officials, such as Dean Karla Carney-Hall, Director of Multicultural Student Affairs George Jackson, Assistant Director for the Office of Residential Life Terrance Bond, Chaplain Elyse Nelson-Winger, Provost Johnathan Green, and Dr. Burke, who will answer student questions. The questions can be in regards to inclusion, personal experiences and any other topic of interest and will be submitted anonymously to the committee via fish bowl.
“We chose to do an event like this to give residents a chance to ask any questions about inclusion that they have and to get to know university officials in a more non-traditional setting,” said RHA National Communications Coordinator Lauren Nielsen. “We are really excited for this event because we know it will be an event students will want to have annually.”
“We encourage everyone to come to the events and participate,” Renner said. “We hope that this will prompt students to communicate and feel like their voices are heard.”