Diversity series panel continues with talks of education of racism in U.S., how to become an ally

By Nandi Sommers '21, staff writer

By Nandi Sommers ’21, staff writer

Earlier this month, St. John Fisher held the second part of its Diversity series panel discussion via zoom.

Nursing Professor Yvette Conyers sat on the discussion panel faculty and addressed actions that need to take place at Fisher. Panelists discussed the importance of education of the history of racism in the United States and how to easily become an ally to oppressed groups of people. 

MORE | Race, diversity and improving environments all discussed during Fisher’s Diversity Series Panel

During the zoom call, break-out room groups were assigned and those present talked about what steps can be taken when it comes to creating a more diverse and comfortable work environment for the people of color who attend and associate with the Fisher community.

“I think we have discussed this in other Fisher groups including the diversity series, 21-day racial equity challenge, REJI, etc. and it will take folks coming together to recognize the need to make the campus more diverse in terms of students and then looking at policy changes for staff and faculty recruitment and retention,” Conyers said. 

The different groups in the panel also discussed how education — when it comes to these subject matters — should start as early as kindergarten. Educating white Fisher students about their privilege should be discussed, and how they can use that privilege as a way to speak up on these topics and become allies. Some of the solutions discussed included supporting campaigns, supporting black-owned businesses, making more connections to the Fisher community, and working with organizations such as ROC the future.

“What are the small decisions you can make to make an even bigger impact,”asked Melissa Goodwin, Associate Professor and Associate Dean, School of Arts and Sciences 

“One thing I frequently say is the need to create space for POC to talk and I think that can be initiated. We have the BSU (Black Student Union) which is a place for students, but something formal for staff and faculty would be good too,” Conyers said. 

“I took away that people were thankful they had the opportunity to watch the two-part series and participate in the discussion. People had an eye-opening moment and you can hear and see that. I think people may be ready to start taking action and not just talking about what they want to do.”

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