Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Feb. 27, 2019

Over the past few weeks, there has been a robust discussion about the recent cancellation of the Understanding Your Whiteness to Become Better Allies (formerly Exploring White Identity for Effective Allyship) spring session. Please know the decision to cancel was not made lightly and was only a pause in the process. In consideration of how to move forward, the workshop previously scheduled for February will now be held May 17.

The curriculum team did an excellent job of creating the material, thinking about the logistics, and ensuring that the message of the workshop was clear. And, although participants and stakeholders directly involved in the sessions were clear on the goals and outcomes, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leadership thought it important to provide more clarification about this particular training and the value of understanding self-work to all stakeholders.

Our goal with these trainings is to have an authentic conversation about race to encourage deeper connections across racial lines. It is important to recognize that while we are located in Iowa City our community members and stakeholders are all over the state of Iowa, the country, and the world. This means that individuals’ experiences, opinions, and values will not—and should not—be the same. We value the freedom to exchange ideas, choose how and what we learn, and recognize that we are all at different levels of engagement.

Conversations about race can be challenging and push us to the edges of our comfort zones. This training was not about shame or guilt, but instead about raising awareness and thinking critically about personal experiences. We are continuing the conversation on race in a variety of ways and hope you will engage in the dialogue on campus and across the state.

Melissa Shivers, vice president for student life and interim associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion
 Marcelo, diversity resources director

Jan. 29, 2019

The workshops were developed at the request of faculty and staff members who identify as White and had attended other training sessions related to race and specifically wanted an opportunity in which to discuss ways to support inclusivity.

During the workshop, facilitators discuss the history of race in the United States and present case scenarios, bystander skills, and strategies on supporting inclusivity. Participants then have an opportunity to discuss their individual experiences with race and experiences at the University of Iowa.

In preparing for this year’s workshops, it became clear the university needed to do additional work to educate our broader community and stakeholders about the purpose of these events, which has been misconstrued by online publications. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leadership became concerned that the confusion and misinformation surrounding the title of workshops could mar the event for this year’s attendees. As a result, the workshops for this spring were canceled to give the university the necessary time to meet with concerned stakeholders and address any concerns or misperceptions.

The University of Iowa values diversity and is committed to creating a welcoming environment for all members of its campus community. We will continue to work on building awareness and giving our campus community the skills needed to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus.