St. Thomas community invited to participate in introductory orientation and facilitation workshop to anti-racism organizing

St. Thomas community invited to participate in introductory orientation and facilitation workshop to anti-racism organizing

I am excited that we are continuing to make progress toward educating the St. Thomas community about our extraordinary opportunity and special responsibility, as a Catholic institution of higher learning, to create and maintain a climate that affirms diversity of people as well as diversity of views. We have been intentional in many respects; however, developing a hate crimes policy and implementation guidelines is only one step in the right direction. We are now ready to expand the learning. As we harness the power of diversity, this office will continue to provide students, faculty and staff a university experience rich in perspectives and opportunities to learn from each other.

From noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, the Office of Institutional Diversity will sponsor a luncheon and orientation/facilitation workshop titled Understanding and Dismantling Racism: An Introductory Orientation and Facilitation Workshop to Anti-Racism Organizing. This event is co-hosted by the Dean of Students Office. We welcome all St. Thomas faculty, staff, students and administrators to become part a campuswide movement and to learn more about how we can be better at dismantling racism and other forms of oppressive behaviors through effective organizing.

The workshop is limited to 40 participants. You must register through the Leadership Academy Web site by March 14. Lunch will be served from noon to 12:45 p.m.

The overarching purpose of this workshop is twofold: (1) to explore a functional definition of racism and related systemic dynamics and (2) to examine practical implications of the definition for institutions, communities and individuals. Participants will gain or further enhance their capacity to understand racism as a systemic issue that is woven into the fabric of American life. The workshop will examine the dynamics of systemic power and race: the quantifiable social disparities separating communities of color and privileged society; the racial advantages promulgated by systems, institutions, and the socializing dynamics that racialize individuals.

The workshop will suggest that changing individual behavior is not enough. If we are to overcome the systemic processes that embed racial values in institutional life, then institutions must change. Fundamental to this workshop is the assumption that virtually all American institutions are on a journey of becoming multicultural and deconstructing systemic racism. The presenters will share a tool that pinpoints institutional location on that journey.

We have invited the Minnesota Collaborative Anti-Racism Initiative (MCARI) to facilitate this important work on our campus. MCARI provides substantial anti-racism consultation and training for nonprofit institutions, government, business and community organizations, and institutions of higher education. The purpose of MCARI is to assist institutions to develop the capacity to deal with racism as a systemic issue.

We strongly encourage faculty members who are teaching in this area to join as well as members from the University Diversity Advisory Council, Affirmative Action Committee, Public Safety, Human Resources Advisory Committee, LuAnn Dummer Center for Women, Student Diversity Relations Committee, Campus Ministry, Justice and Peace Studies, Service Learning, and the Center for Community Partnerships.