By Alan Chavoya, graduate assistant in the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion
The Committee on Equity and Inclusion on April 12 hosted “Rediscovering the Call of Marquette,” the university’s inaugural Symposium on Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice.
Led by Dr. William Welburn, vice president for inclusive excellence, and Jacki Black, associate director of Hispanic initiatives, the symposium served as an “institutional examen” where participants explored how discrimination against race, gender, sexuality and citizenship-status is manifested in Marquette’s community, and then developed different strategies for addressing these issues in order to ensure a more equitable and inclusive environment at Marquette.
In a lead off keynote address, “On the Epistemology of Diversity: Decolonizing ‘Difference’ in Academia Today,” Dr. Grant Silva, associate professor of philosophy, challenged participants to engage in difficult conversations and reflect on Marquette’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. While recruiting a more diverse student body is undoubtedly necessary and important, he said, Silva also drew attention to the pitfalls of simply recruiting diverse students without engaging them as diverse minds.
The professor’s remarks demanded we reevaluate who is considered and validated as a knowledge-producer in this institution, and how — despite diversity and inclusion initiatives — Marquette preserves institutional barriers that invalidate and muffle diverse ways of knowing and being. Stimulating and resonant with those committed to social justice action, Silva’s keynote set the stage for an invigorating day filled with exciting dialogue and calls to action.
Following Silva’s address, breakout sessions covered topics such as strategies for recruiting a more diverse student body, fostering a welcoming campus climate, listening to Indigenous student voices, the story and celebration of the Educational Opportunity Program’s 50th anniversary at Marquette, supporting undocumented students, stereotype threat, promoting underrepresented nursing student success, and other high-impact practices for student engagement.
The symposium helped participants rediscover Marquette’s call, but we must remember that it is a call to action. Though the symposium has concluded, its themes and the conversations held throughout the day require everyday actions and decisions to actualize Marquette’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion without reproducing those institutional behaviors that have perpetuate exclusion of diverse bodies and minds. With such a successful event, we ought to carry its momentum and build upon it as we envision and create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive Marquette.