Moving forward, hoping for a dialogue
Plans for moving forward:
This is a part of a joint project that I am working on with amorphast, S. Yeager, COLLEEN AND MEREDITH
The topics we discussed include:
Discomfort/break in communication/sense of discomfort
How do we open up the dialogue, ease the sense of discomfort, and fix the break in communication when discussion certain topics such as queer?
Last year’s Hall Adviser training schedule is attached if you'd like to look at what kind of activities are involved.
The plan is to make additions to this training, as well as some alterations to the existing training. The first focus of this group in relation to DLT training, as well as customs week is the addition of a Q-Forum during customs week.
- Add Q-Forum training in Hall Adviser’s schedule
- Add Q-Forum to the custom’s week schedule
* All new students including freshmen, McBrides and transfers should attend the Q-Forum during customs week
* DLT members should also be in attendance, while Hall Advisers should lead the forum in order to have it within halls (Allow for smaller discussion groups)
- What kind of orientation do McBrides receive?
- Can McBrides be a part of DLT training? Of custom’s week?
- How can we have a Q-Forum for the McBrides? How should we go about doing this?
- During custom’s week the freshmen go to a discussion/panel/talk by Public Safety
* The language in these discussions need to change
* During the discussion Public Safety hands out rape whistles, gives out the number for public safety, and warns against the dangers of strange men on campus. We are often told, if you see a strange man and it doesn’t feel right call us or if you see a man in the dorms and he is alone call us immediately etc.
* The language surrounding danger needs to change. Currently danger on this campus=male, at least the danger we are warned against. We hope to change the language surrounding danger to include all people, because in reality a person can be attacked by anyone. Despite the fact that this is an all female college, there could still be danger from females.
^^^^I set up an appointment with Public Safety, but the appointment was cancelled by the officer due to scheduling conflicts. For the rest of my group, Mike Ramsey is more than happy to meet this coming week as he will have more time. When I ran into him earlier he talked about Public Safety being the only department on campus to receive diversity and sensistivity training.
An anonymous staff member who has been at the college for over 10 years and interacts with students frequently commented on staff training: “It depends on the person you get…the amount of sensitivity. A few years ago we had students complain about an officer…I think well intended...the officer starting talking to the student about prayer and Jesus and the student was uncomfortable…the officer gave student a pamphlet…I don’t think this officer is here anymore, but it was awkward…
What kind of training do staff and faculty receive at Bryn Mawr? I’m not sure if I was surprised by the answer I received from staff members, but I do believe that there needs to be further training.
Anonymous staff member: “The college doesn’t commit the resources in terms of people, finances, professional development…I’ve been working here for 14 years…the smaller offices can go to the conferences…but even that’s a struggle…can you go…not enough help given…professional development funding is not great…very unclear…
Though our focus for this final project is mainly the education of students, I believe that the training of the whole Bryn Mawr community is very important and needed.
Anonymous staff member: “Faculty and staff need better training about diversity and social justice issues. There is nothing systematic coming from the college around issues of diversity. It’s left up to each department to train their employees. I’ve been here for so long now and I feel like I don’t understand so much around me. I try to be sensitive, but honestly I have no idea about half the things students decide to be…”
Dining Services: Just some background on why I chose to talk to dining services. I’ve worked in Erdman every year since I’ve started Bryn Mawr. I’ve witnessed a full time staff member ask a student worker to “change their ways” referring to their sexuality. I’ve heard of another staff member who told another student worker that they would be ashamed to be their parent.
None of this is ok. After talking to a dining services manager, I received this response:
All of our full-time staff training undergo on the job training and are issued a BMCDS Staff Handbook (pg 11. "Sexual harassment or any form of harassment of another employee or student will not be tolerated by the College") that along with the B.M.C. Employee Manual details appropriate and inappropriate behavior. To my knowledge no one receives direct training on how to deal with LGBTQ issues or any kind of "sensitivity" or appropriate conduct training. This would normally be the province of the HR department in most organizations. I can tell you that BMCDS would support such training for our staff, students and management.
Job training is ongoing and mostly on the job. We do offer food safety training, allergy training and job specific training. Management level employees are eligible to take the Supervisor Survival Course offered by HR, and we do get opportunities to take a variety of Institutes with the National Association of College and University Food Services.
In response to the two instances I stated above:
This is very disturbing to me personally and professionally and this behavior is in no way condoned by BMCDS. As a department we do not support any form of discrimination or abuse (which is how we term your examples). Should we be made directly informed of any staff member discriminating against anyone (worker or no worker) it would be handled in the most serious manner. This kind of behavior should not be tolerated. We are proud of all of our student and full time workers and are committed to providing a safe, tolerant and welcoming work place. I would hate to think of anyone on our campus and more specifically in our dining areas being treated in such a manner, it simply is not tolerable. Should anyone wish to come forward regarding any incident it would be handled confidentially, tactfully and with respect to all involved parties. BMCDS values ALL of its student workers, they are an invaluable part of our department and we do not support any of them to being marginalized or judged on anything other than the quality of their work.
We would support the incorporation of LGBTQ training into staff training. It would, of course, require someone who was properly educated in such matters and who was versed in the legal aspects of such training. I do think this would need to be a HR directed course and could be part of a general training about harassment and inappropriate conduct.
On a personal note, I have worked at BMC over ten years, I have had many student workers and friends who fit into the LGBTQ part of our community and I would hate to think of any of them being treated the way you gave in your examples. We cannot control how people think but we can deal with their actions.
Changes, as well as additions need to be made within DLT training as well as Custom’s week
Everyone should go through some sort of training increasing awareness regarding diversity and social justice issues
Student training is an amazing start, but alone is not enough
Although the staff member I interviewed believes that faculty and staff training must be brought about from the “top”, I believe that it can come from the students
In order for changes to occur and be effective we need to figure out how best to communicate, how best to talk, and discuss. According to Edgar H. Schein there are effective and non-effective ways of trying to discuss and solve problems. There are several discussions that are surrounding the college’s campus
Schein’s advice is about creating a dialogue and his advice includes:
1. Organizing a physical space to be as nearly a circle as possible
2. Introducing the general concept and asking everyone to think of an experience of dialogue in the sense of “good communication” in their past
3. Share this experience with your neighbor and discuss the characteristics of good communication
4. The group can now reflect on these characteristics by taking turns to talk about individual reactions
5. Once everyone has commented, let the conversation flow naturally
6. The facilitator should intervene as necessary to clarify or elucidate
7. Close the session by asking everyone to comment in whatever way they choose
***Members should feel as equal as possible (even if there are actual differences in status, knowledge, rank etc.)
***Everyone should have a sense of guaranteed time to speak
***The task of the group should be exploring the dialogue process
NOT TO MAKE A DECISION OR SOLVE A PROBLEM
Suspension: Choosing to confront a situation during a dialogue immediately can polarize the discussion around a few people and few issues. Instead we should try to “suspend”---let the issue, our feelings, perceptions, judgments rest for a while in a state of suspension to see what more will come up
“Dialogue is necessary as a vehicle for understanding cultures & subcultures, and that organizational learning will ultimately depend upon such cultural understanding.” (Schein 27)
“Any form of organizational learning, therefore, will require the evolution of shared mental models that cut across the subcultures of the organization.” (Schein 28)
“The evolution of new shared mental models is inhibited by current cultural rules about interaction and communication, making dialogue a necessary first step in learning’s.” (Schein 28)
“If problem solving and conflict resolution in groups is increasingly important in our complex world, then the skill of dialogue becomes one of most fundamental human skills.” (Schein 28)
“Dialogue focuses on getting in touch with underlying assumptions (especially our own assumptions) that automatically determine when we choose to speak and what we choose to say. Dialogue is focused more on the thinking process and how our perceptions and cognitions are preformed by our past experiences…if we become more conscious of how our thought process works we will think better collectively and communicate better.” (Schein 30)
WE HAVE TO LEARN TO LISTEN TO OURSELVES, TO UNDERSTAND AND HEAR OURSELVES BEFORE WE CAN REALLY UNDERSTAND OTHERS
Credit Should be Given To:
4 Anonymous Staff Members
Mike Ramsey from Public Safety
Angie Sheets from Residential Life