Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Challenging stereotype hype

Angela Guy, president and founder of DezigNation, a new fashion club on campus, wasn’t used to thinking before she spoke — until she completed one of FAU’s free diversity workshops.

Offered by the Office of Multicultural Affairs to any currently enrolled student, these one-day interactive workshops aim to help students understand their own diversity. They also cover topics such as cultural identity, prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination. The next workshop is scheduled for Friday, July 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Boca campus.
“This training shows that we’re all a work in progress — even the facilitators — and we just have to understand how our behaviors negatively impact others and how our beliefs and values may negatively impact us in the future,” says Rozalia Williams, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Black Student Union and Multicultural Programs (BSUMP). Williams is also the FAU representative for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“You look at all of these politicians and entertainers whose careers have gone down the drain because of one derogatory remark — we don’t want that to happen to any of our students.”

Diversity workshops, valued at $15,000 to $20,000 for private corporations, are facilitated by a portion of 21 faculty and staff members who completed five days of training and are certified by the ADL. This non-profit organization has been advocating for civil rights since 1913. The Boca  campus is also the only institution licensed and trained by the ADL to offer these workshops, which are funded by Student Government.

All content discussed in the workshops is agreed to remain confidential by participants. Segments on effective listening and how to speak up against stereotypes were conducted by having students pair up and respond to various statements. Facilitators explained that repeating keywords used by the other person is a sign of effective listening, and that there are specific words one can use to challenge stereotypes in language and actions.

The “identity molecule” part of the training highlights the different classes that hold socioeconomic power in the U.S. and helps students determine where they fall in this spectrum. However, many other activities and anecdotal examples are shared amongst the different groups.
“It really, really made me more proactive in reaching out to others and learning from them, and more willing to listen,” says Andrea Panayiotou, a senior music major and member of the Catholic Newman Club. “I felt a lot more comfortable talking about [diversity] because of the small group.”

There have been five workshops since the program began in spring 2008.
“When you look at the five classes we’ve already had, everybody here took the training because they wanted to, because they see the value of having it,” says Williams. She adds that listing this workshop on a résumé will give students a competitive advantage in the job market.

Students who complete the workshop are awarded a certificate of completion and, if applicable, .6 continuing education units, which some professionals in fields like education, social work and nursing need to maintain their licenses.

According to Williams, “We have to prepare the next generation.” She hopes that students, especially those who complete the workshop, will not be ostracized because of their identity.
“Bias, prejudice, discrimination [and] stereotyping is unacceptable toward any group of people. It causes pain and suffering. It’s divisive and non-productive. Until we recognize the common bond and denominator that we all share, and we begin to see that in every human being, we’re not going to progress as a society.”

For more information, visit www.fau.edu/oma/diversitypgms.

If you want to go …
What: Diversity workshop
When: Friday, July 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Majestic Palm Room
(in the Student Union on the Boca campus)
How: Pre-register at www.fau.edu/oma/diversitypgms
Cost: Free

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