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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Student Senate designs and executes diversity training

Student Senate designs and executes diversity training

Student Senate worked with Intercultural Life to institute a diversity training program

Mujtaba Hassan, a junior and the chair of the Senate Diversity Committee, worked with Rain Garant, assistant director of Intercultural Life, to create a diversity training program for the Student Senate General Assembly, which it began to institute this term.

The program will take place in three sessions with the overall goal to increase intercultural competence within the Senate. The sessions will cover microaggressions, vulnerability and intent versus impact. Two of the sessions have already taken place, and the final session will happen next week.

Hassan says that feedback about the sessions is being collected so improvements can be made for the next time training takes place. The plan is to have training each term with a total of 6 hours of training each year. Hassan hopes that the training can continue to be tweaked to fit the Senate’s needs.

The Senate Executive Committee had spoken about the possibility of beginning a diversity training program in the past, but was inspired by student activism during the fall term to get the ball rolling and create a program.

After conducting as much research as they could and speaking with Garant, the diversity training was proposed to the General Assembly in early November. Initially, the proposal faced some pushback. 

Daniel Bien, a junior class senator, did not want to approve the proposal when he first heard about it because the introduction to the training had been brief and did not show the full picture. The minutes for that meeting show that he also brought up concerns about the effectiveness of mandatory diversity training.

Ryan Higgins, a senior class senator, motioned to postpone a vote on diversity training until a more effective method was found. The motion was passed with the agreement of two other senators who felt that the plan for training felt rushed and reactionary.

Hassan took the other senators’ feedback and met with each of them over winter break to discuss concerns and adjust the training where necessary. Bien felt that his concerns were heard and addressed.

Higgins appreciated that Hassan was so willing to work with Senators to address their concerns, but still doubts the efficacy of diversity training, fearing that focusing on differences between people and cultures will result in further division.

Joseph Saoud, a junior class senator, worried that the diversity training wouldn’t be of much use to international students. He appreciates the sentiment of the diversity training and ultimately decided that if they help others, he is okay with them. 

The second time that the proposal was given to the Senate in January, the assembly voted unanimously to approve the diversity training, according to Hassan. The program’s effectiveness will be evaluated at the end of the term in order to determine which adjustments need to be made moving forward.

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