Inclusivity Week Promotes Understanding Across Cultures and Genders
Andy Davis

inclusivity-2-color-casey-french.jpgToday marks the middle of Inclusivity Week, a series of events that intend to promote inclusivity within the student body and create an understanding of other races, cul­tures and sexual orientations.

The week was organized by Mark Moua, Inclusivity Director through the Student Government Association, with the help of Diversity and College Access. Moua said the week is meant to promote student involvement and student organization events.

There are four events that com­pose Inclusivity Week, two of which have already been held.

“I didn’t want the week to be crammed with events,” Moua said. “It’s spread out so students will have the opportunity to go to at least one.”

The week began on Sunday, Feb. 24 with the Soul Food Dinner hosted by the Black Student Union in the Laird Room of the Dreyfus University Center.

Moua said that the dinner focused on family and the feeling of togetherness. Former union president and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point alumnus Chamario McMichael has worked as the head chef of the dinner for five years. 

“I think Inclusivity Week is a symbol that expresses to students it’s okay to be different, now let’s unify,” McMichael said. “We need to change the climate on campus to a positive state.”

On Monday, Feb. 25, the Inappropriate Questions Panel was held in the Alumni Room of the university center, which Moua and McMichael both attended. Moua said the questions spanned topics such as race, gender and sexual orientation.

“It was a big step and it is a sign that this campus needs more educa­tion,” Moua said.

McMichael said the questions panel is something,“we should have more often, even in the residence halls. They could spark conversa­tions about diversity within the halls and promote cultural awareness. The questions may be inappropriate to some, but to others they’re just curi­osity. I wish more people would have come.”

Tonight at 6 p.m. in the Alumni Room, Safe Zone Training will be hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. The training session is open to all faculty, staff and stu­dents, according to the alliance’s Administrative and Institutional Support Director Allie Schjoth. She said it will spread awareness of LBGTQA issues and teach attendants how to create a safe and welcoming environment.

“I hope students will come out to show their support for one anoth­er and recognizing diverse groups on campus,” Schjoth said. “We’re definitely excited to participate in Inclusivity Week.”

The Hmong and Southeast Asian American Club will be hosting the Traditional and Modern Hmong Arts Conference in the university center Laird Room at 11 a.m. The club’s Vice President Yia Lor said that the aim of the conference is cultural education and awareness.

“The conference benefits Hmong and non-Hmong students,” Lor said. “It educates non-Hmong students about a culture they don’t belong to, and offers Hmong students more information about their own culture.”

The conference will have differ­ent sessions with speakers on a wide range of topics. Each session will be about 50 minutes long with 10-min­ute breaks in between for students to choose topics that interest them, according to Lor. There will also be entertainment and a meal catered by Chef Chu’s, Lor said. The conference will be the last event of Inclusivity Week.

“We need to make inclusivity part of our campus climate. We need a safe zone for all LGBTQA, feminists, cul­tural groups, everyone,” McMichael said. “It bothers me that we almost have to force these events on the stu­dent body.”

Both Moua and McMichael said that this week is about students step­ping out of their comfort zone and immersing themselves in experiences that will put them in situations where they stand to learn something.

“It’s all about breaking the mold,” McMichael said. “It’s all about unity. We’re all Pointers.”