According to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), roughly one-fourth of (recorded) nationalist group recruitment efforts consist of campus propaganda — a phenomenon experienced nationwide. Recently, the University of Utah campus had multiple remnants of these hate groups removed and condemned by President Watkins as actions of bigotry and hate.
“At the University of Utah, we value free speech and the diversity of ideas, but we also have an ethical obligation to call out hateful speech when we see it,” stated Watkins.
Higher education provides an opportunity to learn from and engage in crucial dialogues with communities outside of one’s identities in order to learn how to identify these forms of othering and prepare “for lives of impact as leaders and citizens.” Under the leadership of Vice President Mary Ann Villarreal, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion strives to contribute to this ecosystem of learning by hosting large annual events aiming to educate all its participants on varying aspects of experience and identity.
“Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion supports the vision of President Watkins’ initiatives with a focus on equity and inclusion. Through our programming and initiatives, we engage in efforts of change across the institution, and throughout our surrounding community, in order to foster community, belonging, cultural literacy and social action,” shared Villarreal.
In an effort to provide additional educational moments, Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion are co-hosting an upcoming panel series titled “Reframing the conversation,” which will bring together experts from across campus and the community to spark important conversations around racism, othering, and safety. With the first panel coinciding with Black History Month, “Expanding the portrayal of Black men” will explore how these topics surround those who identify as Black men and specifically speak to the effects, trends, and future of Black representation in various outlets.
Following the first panel in February, two additional panels focused on the rise of white nationalism and measures towards inclusive safety will be held in March. Both Student Affairs and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion intend on continuing this series in the semesters to come.
“With these conversations, we (Student Affairs and EDI) are striving to counteract the growing culture of othering with a culture of belonging,” said Villarreal. “While we continue to identify and remove barriers and bias incidents targeting our campus community, persistent strides towards an institution where every member is given the opportunity to be educated on equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts will remain at the forefront of our work.”
Read a joint statement on building an inclusive campus by Vice Presidents Mary Ann Villarreal and Lori McDonald here.