The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

NKU introduces diversity, equity training; students, faculty react

March 3, 2021


Campus community members are encouraged by NKU’s Office of Inclusiveness Excellence to complete the 40-minute training session that is now available.

This semester, NKU has announced Danielle McDonald as its inaugural Diversity Fellow, the appointment of Eddie Howard as Vice President of Student Affairs and new training from EVERFI on “diversity, equity and inclusion.” As NKU experiences hate speech from groups like Patriot Front, efforts to enhance NKU’s diversity and inclusivity continue.

On Jan. 29, 2021, Chief Diversity Officer Darryl Peal released an email through the Office of Inclusiveness Excellence announcing the availability of EVERFI’s virtual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training. 

“Our goal with this training is to inspire a more equitable and respectful community while learning about diversity, equity and inclusion,” Peal stated in the email.

The EVERFI training for students will take 40 minutes and covers five main sections: Introduction, Identities, Power, Privilege and Oppression, Creating a Culture of Respect and Conclusion. According to McDonald, the training exercises are specifically tailored for students, faculty and administrators.

Howard said that the EVERFI training spurred from NKU student requests for more diversity and inclusion training and he hopes that the training will help to educate and open the floor for conversations that promote campus inclusivity.   

“You have to start with educating people and having people to see what the issues are,” Howard said. “And then comes conversation, which leads to understanding.”

Howard isn’t alone in the notion that the EVERFI training will serve as a foundation for more inclusive conversations.

According to McDonald, this isn’t like any virtual training that NKU has had in the past. 

“I think one of the problems that we’ve had in the past with trainings of this nature is that it’s a generic training, it’s often very quick-like, it’s just a get through it and get your certificate, send in and say you did it,” McDonald said.

“This is different,” McDonald said. “[Peal’s] worked really hard on this to really make this tailored and individual, and more of an interactive and an engaged experience. So, we’re really hopeful that this will have some impact in that regard and get those conversations starting.”

 Karla Arango, sophomore and G.U.I.D.E (Greeks United for Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity) president, said that the EVERFI training does hold educational value and importance but “it’s still just a screen.”

“I like to compare it to the sexual assault training that we have to do on EVERFI. Obviously they’re two very different topics, but I feel like issues of diversity and inclusion can be very triggering for people that have experienced hate crimes or discrimination in general—which I know a lot of our marginalized students have,” Arango said.

According to Arango, the most effective approach that she has encountered at NKU have been the guest speakers or when fellow students share their stories. 

“These are way more effective because they stick to people and they’re way more personable than a screen,” Arango said.

Arango would prefer to see NKU’s mission toward diversity and inclusiveness become more student-piloted, consisting of student panels and webinars.

McDonald has been piecing together a workshop that has the potential to get students more involved in shaping NKU’s more diverse and inclusive campus.

The “Intentionally Creating an Inclusive Classroom” is coming in April. This workshop will be open to all NKU staff and students and will focus on being mindful and intentional in addressing the issues of inclusivity, according to McDonald.

Arango also said that NKU could hear all the voices by conducting three or four “roundtable events” that will go over current topics and issues that students face and how to enact positive change, a semester with NKU President Ashish Vaidya and Howard.

Some virtual roundtable discussions like this have been happening recently in regards to the events at the Capitol building on January 6.  

“I know that we have SGA and other organizations that already do that but just making it more accessible to more students,” Arango said.

Arango, McDonald and Howard all noted that diversity and inclusive work is hard work and the EVERFI training will serve as a knowledge foundation to build a conversation to address NKU’s diversity and inclusivity issues.

According to McDonald, NKU students and faculty can help push through obstacles in the way of a more inclusive campus.

McDonald offered a way that all Norse can help guide our mission to become more diverse and inclusive, “Leap. Take that step and do it, meet people that are different than you. That’s the biggest barrier we have, not knowing where people are coming from. Once we get to listen to one another and see where they’re coming from and see their life experiences, you start to see the value in that and how the lens that you look through is not the only one.”

To learn more about NKU’s mission toward a more diverse and inclusive campus, visit here or reach out via phone at (859) 572-6630.

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