Special to The Denisonian
Students, faculty and community members alike gathered in Knobel Hall on Sept. 13 to hear Alison Williams, associate provost for diversity and intercultural education, speak on the topic of diversity and her first year at Denison.
“I’m curious about diversity here on campus and how I can get involved,” said attendee Brenna Raeder ‘20.
Every seat was filled in the room, which boasts one of the best views on campus. Williams began her talk, titled “Diversity and Inclusion at Denison: Reflections on my First 300 Days,” by explaining her background at different universities.
She learned effective and ineffective techniques in terms of inclusivity while on these campuses and offered her expertise to Denison.
She acknowledged the strides Denison has made in campus diversity since its beginnings, but highlighted the need for improvement to be considered a school of equity.
She explained that 10 years ago, 16 percent of Denison students identified themselves as multicultural. Now, the number has doubled to 32 percent. Denison has transformed and shifted its priority of diversity into its fundamentals, Williams said. She also complimented the good stewardship of Denison as an institution.
In order to reach the liberation of all students and staff, Williams laid out three steps. One, respect must be built for those who might not share the same identities.
Not all identities are visible and so we must refrain from making assumptions. The many intersecting identities can cause privilege, or lack thereof.
Denison has many different dimensions of diversity on campus, but diversity is not only expanding within the student body either.Williams noted that Denison’s faculty is also becoming more inclusive and diverse.
Next, the improvement of access for all identities and experiences is crucial to expanding diversity on the hill. All identities must be able to fully participate in the progression we experience as a university.
Lastly, we must add inclusivity into the equation. This entails more inclusive classrooms and a more inclusive process for promotion of faculty.
Mikayla Trimpey ‘20 of Bowling Green, Ohio said, “after coming from a small town where I was surrounded only be people who were like me, it’s been great coming to Denison and forming relationships with people of all different identities and backgrounds.”
After the talk, Williams described the ways in which students can advocate for a more diverse campus and community.
She advised students to “challenge ‘-isms’ among your peers when you observe them and learn to be allies. Use Denison’s Bias Response Protocol. Help create the campus you deserve.”