One-hundred-twenty campus leaders gathered last month at the inaugural LEADR, Leaders for Equity and Diversity Retreat, to discuss equity, inclusion, social inclusion and diversity.

As part of the Action Plan to Combat Racism, the retreat was designed for student leaders to explore the identities of others, as well as themselves, and to learn how working with those from diverse backgrounds impacts leadership style and development. Throughout a full weekend of programming and training, students connected with one another and worked on embracing each others’ differences.

The LEADR program was held from Aug. 23-24 at YMCA Camp Ihduhapi in Loretto, Minnesota. On Friday, students participated in dinner, low-ropes activities, a bonfire campout, and team-bonding exercises led by Student Affairs and Campus Ministry staff, including Residence Life, Campus Life, Off-Campus Student Life and Student Diversity and Inclusion Services. Saturday involved diversity, equity and inclusion training led by Sara and Jamil Stamschror-Lott from Creative Kuponya.

This training, which included large-group discussions, intergroup dialogues in small groups, and various breakout sessions, focused on the dynamics of oppression through the lens of race and racism.

Specifically, participants learned to do the following:

  • Describe your own social identity and how it impacts others.
  • Deepen your understanding of the dynamics of oppression at the individual, group, cultural, and system levels through the lens of race and racism.
  • Gain awareness of the ongoing issues of white privilege, white fragility and racism.
  • Engage in meaningful, cross-cultural dialogue by listening with empathy and communicating effectively across diverse perspectives.
  • Empower others to engage in critical conversations about diversity.
  • Identify connections with individuals and communities.

The LEADR program not only taught students the importance of interacting with those of diverse backgrounds, but also demonstrated how to be a changemaker on campus.

“The LEADR provided an opportunity for students to think of actionable steps they can take to be change makers within their respective leadership roles, to advance the common good and cultivate a more just and inclusive campus culture in alignment with President [Julie] Sullivan’s Action Plan to Combat Racism,” said Shanea Turner-Smith, Student Diversity and Inclusion Services Program Director.

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