Since forming in 2008, Waubonsee’s Diversity Leadership Council (DLC) has undertaken many efforts to further its mission, which reads, “Waubonsee Community College commits to creating, modeling, and supporting an open and inclusive environment for all students, faculty, staff and community members.” But perhaps its most wide-reaching and high-profile initiative to date came this past year as more than 550 members of the college community participated in diversity training.
After researching several options, the college partnered with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to deliver the “Intergroup Dialogue: A Campus of DifferenceTM” training program. The goals of the training program include creating a more welcoming campus environment and equipping people with the knowledge and tools they need to accept differences among co-workers and students.
"The training was a great forum for discussing important diversity issues in our college community," said Lulu Blacksmith, Waubonsee’s Director for Governmental and Multicultural Affairs. "We were very pleased not only with the content of the training but also by the positive reception it got from faculty and staff."
Also helping to create a more inclusive atmosphere is a new employee ambassador program. The program matches new employees with an ambassador outside of their department who can answer questions and help them get adjusted to life at Waubonsee.
"The program is like rolling out the red carpet for someone who is trying to figure out where they fit into the big picture," said Ne’Keisha Stepney, an Academic Specialist who serves as an ambassador. "As an ambassador I have had the opportunity to display hospitality and reach out to someone that I otherwise may have never met, and that has been great for me too."
But it is not just staff and faculty who benefit from a diverse college community. Students gained valuable insight through the inclusion of a diversity-focused activity at New Student Orientation sessions this past year. The activity asks students to examine different facets of their identities, including gender, race, socioeconomic status and age.
"Education has the unique power to open an individual up to other viewpoints, so we felt that a diversity activity during orientation would set the right tone for our students’ experiences here," said Michelle Talley, chair of the Celebrating Student Diversity committee.
A special group of students were celebrated this past year as the college held a Veterans Day Observance in November 2009. Members of the college’s Veterans Club recited a history of the holiday, Waubonsee President Dr. Christine Sobek read President Obama’s Veterans Day Proclamation, and the college’s music department performed several patriotic songs.