Diversity at Western Michigan University encompasses inclusion, acceptance, respect, and empowerment. This means understanding that each individual is unique and that our commonalities and differences make the contributions we have to offer all the more valuable. Affirming diversity takes intentionality, knowledge, and experiences with people who hold identities different from one’s own. WMU is committed to doing what it takes to become a truly diverse and inclusive university where community members feel welcomed, included, and have equitable access to resources.
The Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Office of Faculty Development collaborated to offer Everyone Counts Diversity Learning Communities. The program began in February 2010 as a way of engaging faculty, graduate students with assistantships, and staff members on diversity through the Southwest Michigan RACE Exhibit Initiative. As such, the inaugural program focused on race and ethnicity and empowered participants to explore this topic in a supportive community. These learning communities serve to equip staff members, faculty members, part-time instructors, and graduate students with assistantships.
Each year participants will focus on a topic area of diversity. In this year-long experience, participants will engage in regular meetings within a diverse group of 8-12 people who discuss literature on their diversity topic area, share best practices, listen to guest speakers, attend workshops and conferences, and dialogue around challenges and opportunities. Participants will:
- Learn how to affect systemic, transformational, institutional change toward greater inclusion.
- Acquire tools to facilitate dialogue between and within diverse groups.
- Work and lead more effectively to create a campus climate that is affirming and validating of diverse experiences and perspectives.
Each participant will select an individual or group project focused on systemic, transformational, institutional change. Participants are supported in the development of learning outcomes by their facilitators and their community. Participants are encouraged to engage in action to create an inclusive environment in their workplace and greater campus.
Each participant will be expected to:
- Consider new ways of thinking about what you do, who you are, your beliefs about others, and your vision of diversity.
- Be an integral and active participant in your learning community.
- Attend bi-weekly meetings.
- Attend initial large group meetings.
- Attend three all-community meetings.
- Develop an “outcome”—a project that integrates your experience into your work on campus.
Participant Poster Projects
“The learning communities gave me a chance to voice my questions and thoughts on diversity which I think, in turn, has helped me get over any shyness of being a voice for diversity in a larger context.”
“[The learning communities] changed the way I look at the culture at WMU and has encouraged me to try to find ways to facilitate discussions about those things that make us unique, as well as those things we have in common.”
“I shared with our community members and facilitators that our bi-weekly gatherings were, at times, the most meaningful, difficult, and rewarding blocks of time I would have in a two week span while at work.”
“Everyone Counts has been an extraordinary journey for me and I will always be grateful that I was a part of this very important work on our campus.”
"It has been excellent for enabling a diverse group that shares common goals to come together in a supportive environment to focus on changing our campus for the better."
"It has helped me to develop a vocabulary for identifying, addressing, and discussing issues of social justice, and has helped me be a more fully-informed person, allowing me to be more effective and engaged in all areas of my personal and professional life."
"I am more able to adequately address issues of oppression in class and to notice (or force) times for it to be addressed."
Lauren Carney, Jan Gabel-Goes, Diana Hernández, Mariam Konaté, Nathan Nguyễn, and Lindsey Palar