“Stepping Into Diversity” is a new program to be implemented at SUNY New Paltz in the 2018-19 year.
The program is yearlong and requires an application.It focuses developing leadership among its members through the lens of studying, discussing and understanding diversity, according to the program’s webpage.
Diana Suarez, the coordinator of the program, facilitates and markets it. She will work with students to meet the requirements to graduate from the program.
According to Suarez, the mission of “Stepping into Diversity” is to, “provide students with the ability to discuss issues of diversity. We seek to get the topics out, have students become more comfortable discussing diversity, and we want to teach skills in communicating about these issues.”
Suarez elaborated on another goal of the program.
“Although many students are knowledgeable about issues of diversity because of their major, we want to extend this knowledge,” she said. “For example, to students in majors such as engineering which do not necessarily discuss topics of diversity.”
The program seeks to directly impact the campus and student community of SUNY New Paltz by teaching students the ways to raise awareness about inclusivity.
“We want students to get skills and spread the knowledge they learn,” she said. “For example, a student could incorporate their knowledge of diversity into their role on an e-board, or participating in other organizations on campus. They could explain how to be more inclusive.”
Many New Paltz students signed up for the program, even more than initially expected.
“It ended up not being hard to get students involved. We have a lot of people applying,” Suarez said. “We originally intended to take only 50 students, but so many people applied we’re going to accept about 70.”
Suarez finds the excitement to be an important factor in teaching about issues of diversity and inclusivity.
“We are excited [about this program] and students are excited, too. That’s important, because then students can have conversations with peers,” Suarez said. “Sometimes that’s more real than being taught by a professor.”
The program plans to host workshops, speakers and public events on campus in the fall and spring semesters. This offers the students in the program an opportunity to share with everyone their inclusivity knowledge.
They plan to host more hands-on events in the Spring, including a potential April conference on diversity.
Suarez offered a reflection on the nature of learning about inclusivity:
“Diversity… you can never finish working on it!”