Britton Plaza Home to Fourth Annual Campus Inclusion Week Celebration

Jacob DeCarli ‘22, Managing Editor

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Students, faculty and staff of various social, religious and political identities were recognized and celebrated in Campus Inclusion Week. 

The week-long event, which took place from Monday, Sept. 22 to Friday, Sept. 27 encouraged students to learn more about different inclusive identities on campus and ways to make people feel respected and welcomed. 

According to the Dickinson College website, the Bias Education and Response Team (BERT), the Center for Global Studies and Education (CGSE), the Office of LGBTQ services and the Popel Shaw Center for Race and Ethnicity (PSC), organized activities throughout the week and coordinated specific themes for each day. Themes included allyship, neurodiversity and social justice. Most events took place on Britton plaza during the afternoon. 

Campus inclusion event ideas surfaced in 2016 from Vincent Stephens, director of the PSC. According to Stephens, he has served as the lead coordinator since 2016 when campus inclusion week was a “four-day interactive event.” Along with the campus offices that represent different inclusive identities, Stephens included various student groups on campus to learn partake in social justice activities. 

In 2017 campus inclusion week was expanded to five days and involved other campus offices and organizations like the Trout Gallery, Athletics and SAAC [Student Athlete Advisory Committee], the Waidner-Sphar Library, Human Resources [HR], College Advancement and the Presidents’ Commission on Inclusivity. “Each year we find creative ways to invite new partners and refine our activities,” Stephens said and continued that involving offices like HR and College Advancement helped to show that inclusivity goes “beyond the plaza.”

A new feature of this year’s events was the “spotlight tables” planned by the involved offices and organizations on campus. These tables had activities for students to learn more about the importance of inclusivity within certain organizations and in the Dickinson community. The Office of LGBTQ services organized a spotlight table with an activity based on myths and facts about different gender identities and sexual orientations. James van Kuilenburg ’22, a student employee of the Office of LGBTQ Services, said it is easier to talk about difficult topics like gender identity and sexuality when “we approach them with personal experiences and games like ‘myth and fact.’”  Van Kuilenburg explained the importance of hosting events related to these issues to encourage continual growth and learning among students. At the Kline Athletic Center, a table was organized and lead by several athletes with an accompanying activity that allowed students to display messages of how athletics can become more inclusive. Ryan Murphy ’20, a member of the track & field team, helped with the athletic’s spotlight table and said he is glad that athletics is involved with inclusivity initiatives. “There’s still a long way to go with making athletics more inclusive,” Murphy said, “and that was supported by the stats we showed at the table.” 

The week’s events were perceived to be positive by lead organizers. Donna Bickford, director of the office of equity and inclusivity, and executive director of the women’s and gender resource center, said the week has and continues to be “well-received” by the community because it is a, “moment to raise awareness and visibility about our efforts to build an inclusive campus where everyone can thrive and succeed.” Bickford also referenced the campus inclusion pledge and said that it serves to “remind us all of the tangible steps we can take to contribute to inclusion and equity on campus.” Bickford has helped lead campus inclusion week since 2016 along with Stephens. 

Students appreciated the week’s activities and recognized the importance of participating in campus inclusion week. Claire Simpson ’22 collected pamphlets from the different tables throughout the week. “I think campus inclusion week is a good first step in making Dickinson more available to everyone,” Simpson said.

Van Kuilenburg reflected on the importance of hosting events related to inclusivity to encourage continual learning and growth among students. “Allyship should be a journey, not a destination,” Van Kuilenberg said, “We need to continue challenging ourselves and others to learn.”