Week of events to celebrate diversity at WVU Tech
WVU Tech’s community is made up of students, alumni, faculty and staff from a wide range of cultures and all walks of life. Golden Bears are a diverse family, and the University’s Division of Student Life will be hosting a series of events throughout the week to celebrate that diversity.
Diversity Week runs October 9-13 and will feature daily events designed to get people sharing and talking about their unique life experiences.
Scott Robertson, Assistant Dean of Students for TRIO and Diversity Programs, said that Tech functions as a place for cultural exchange in addition to the academic and professional development that goes on in the classroom.
“Tech is in the heart of the Appalachian region and we have students from all corners of the United States and from 20 countries. This kind of diversity provides a unique opportunity for our students from Appalachia to learn about other cultures. It allows students from outside the region to get a better understanding of what folks here are like compared to what's portrayed in television and media,” he said. “In that way, having such broad diversity on campus helps to break down stereotypes across the board.”
The week begins with Dashiki Day on Monday, where students are encouraged to wear their traditional West African garments and stop by the LRC Rotunda for photos.
The division will host “Conversations with Cops” that evening, where students can meet with local law enforcement to have an open discussion and do some stereotype busting.
“We want to build on the strong relationship that our students have with the WVU Tech police by bringing in officers from the City of Beckley to meet our students through an informal setting,” said Robertson.
Tuesday’s activities will include a World Religion Fair from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on the LRC patio. At the fair, students will be able to meet with other students and local organizations to discuss the religious beliefs and practices that sustain them.
On Tuesday afternoon, members of the WVU Tech community can attend a bystander training seminar conducted by WVU Tech Behavioral Health Therapist Mary Hoke.
“She’ll go over warning signs and talk about situations where people can step in to diffuse a situation, whether it’s related to drugs and alcohol or sex,” said Robertson. “This also plays into bullying or racially charged incidents. We tend to go after things we don't understand, so we the thought that this training will be able to help in these situations before they escalate or become violent.”
Wednesday, October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Students will celebrate with “Rocking out with RuPaul,” where they’ll discuss the actor’s influence within LGBTQ+ and African American culture.
On Thursday, students will learn about tie dye chromatography with the Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, Or Mathematics Empowerment (AWESOME). In the evening, they’ll screen and discuss the comedy special “Homecoming King” by comedian Hasan Minhaj, where the comedian talks about growing up as an Indian American Muslim in California.
Friday will wrap up the week’s events with a cultural fashion show at 7 p.m. in the Carter Hall auditorium.
“These events can help open up a dialogue that may not happen otherwise. A lot of times, we get into situations where we don’t ask questions because we're afraid we're going to hurt somebody's feelings, but this actually allows for there to be constructive dialogue that leads to something positive,” said Robertson.
“The things we don't talk about divide us, and so this will allow us as a community to grow stronger and maybe gain a better understanding of where people are coming from,” he said.
Robertson said that his team is planning a number of diversity-based initiatives throughout the year, including hosting pieces of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and bringing in special guest speakers.