Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

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SIDE group

SIDE attracted 26 students this year

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

SIDE orbe

SIDE facilitator Mark Orbe (center) conducted the diversity training for the eighth consecutive year

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

SIDE table

2017 SIDE registration had a waiting list within 24 hours

Photographer: George E. Mauzy Jr.

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SIDE diversity education training continues to grow in popularity in eighth year

Registration was full within 24 hours due to popularity

The eighth annual Ohio University Summer Institute for Diversity Education (SIDE) was held last week at the Athens Campus, and 26 faculty, staff and students participated.

Due to the growing racial tension and unresolved social justice issues being debated every day in the nation, SIDE educators said diversity education has become more important than ever.

SIDE 2017, which took place May 16-19, is led each year by Ohio University alumnus and Western Michigan University Professor of Communication Dr. Mark P. Orbe, an internationally known educator, author and consultant. The 30-hour SIDE curriculum is designed to empower and train participants in the art of effective diversity programming through individual and group exercises.

SIDE, which is sponsored by the Ohio University Office for Diversity and Inclusion, has attracted more than 200 participants since its inception in 2010.

Orbe said this year's cohort slots were filled in record time.

“Every year registration fills up quicker,” Orbe said. “It was opened on a Tuesday, and we had a waiting list within 24 hours. We have folks from the regional campuses and all three medical schools as well as our first participant from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.”

Orbe said it is meaningful that people have been recommitting to diversity work due to the current political and social climates in the U.S.

“Diversity issues are even now more important to engage and to get more professional development on how we can promote harmony and intercultural understanding,” Orbe said.

Alicia Chavira-Prado, Ohio University special assistant to the vice provost for diversity and inclusion, said diversity and inclusion education should be a priority for every higher education institution. She said the importance of it is one of the reasons that SIDE training is so popular.

“People feel a sense of freedom to express their negative views about diversity, and those of us who are responsible for promoting diversity and inclusion can see that our work is more needed than ever,” Chavira-Prado said.

Carolyn Craig is a marketing instructor in Miami University’s Farmer School of Business and president of Miami University's Association of Black Faculty & Staff. She also is helping to lead university-level diversity and inclusion initiatives at Miami and said she was happy to be able to sign up for SIDE before it filled up after failing to do so the previous two years.

“I have a background in diversity training and facilitation, but I wanted to gain a new perspective for education and academia because I came from the corporate world,” Craig said. “I wanted to get a more solid foundation and more creative ideas. In academia, everything needs to be grounded in scholarship, so I wanted to expand my knowledge and this training has done that.”

Craig talked about how she will use the training on her job.

“Mark (Orbe) has some new and unique ways on how to facilitate diversity training, so I have little sticky notes all over the handouts on how I will use the training exercises when I return to Miami,” Craig said. “I highly recommend this training for anyone who wants to gain a different perspective for diversity training facilitation.”

Betsy Kerns, assistant director of student affairs at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Cleveland, said she wanted to experience SIDE after watching Dr. Orbe provide diversity training to medical students on her campus.

“We have some of the same issues in Cleveland that are happening all over the nation around race, religion and ethnicity, and I wanted to learn how to facilitate these difficult conversations,” Kerns said. “I now look forward to implementing many of these SIDE diversity exercises on our campus, because we want our medical students to be the best physicians they can be.”

Micah McCary, Ohio University assistant director for East Green and diversity initiatives in Housing and Residence Life, said he signed up for SIDE after hearing many of his colleagues share positive things about it in the past years.

“I just took on responsibilities for Housing and Residence Life’s diversity initiatives, which is something we always had a commitment to but no one had oversight of. Before the training started, I wrote down my goal of getting some bursts of inspiration to share with my colleagues daily and that has happened,” McCary said.

Viktoria Marinova, a graduate student who works in Ohio University International Student and Faculty Services, said the training will help her interact with other international students and have a better understanding of them. She also said she saw how it could help her academic career as a communication and development person. 

Although she was born in Bulgaria, Marinova moved to South Africa with her family at 8 years old. In August 2016, she enrolled at Ohio University to pursue a master’s degree in communication and development.

“This training has been transformative for me both mentally and emotionally,” Marinova said. “I realized that there are many things that I may not have been as conscious about as I originally thought, so it’s been a good learning experience, a good bonding experience and a free space to show my vulnerability and speak about things I usually wouldn’t address.”

Mara Giglio, the director of the Appalachian Peace and Justice Network in Athens, Ohio, said she has been a workshop trainer for 18 years and teaches bullying and violence prevention classes in local elementary and middle schools, as well as sexual assault prevention training in middle and high schools.

“After the presidential election, it became more important for us to protect our rights as women,” Giglio said. “All of the protected minorities have had to step it up and be more assertive in letting people know what we want.”

Giglio said the SIDE training significantly enhanced her skill set as a workshop trainer.

“Dr. Orbe’s training has expanded my tool belt exponentially,” Giglio said. “I have tons more tools, activities and strategies to bring people together and to help them be vulnerable in a safe way. During the SIDE training, he creates a safe container for us to be vulnerable and learn more about each other and ourselves and make stronger connections so that we can do deeper work together.”

Dr. Jesse Strycker, an assistant professor of instructional technology in the Patton College of Education, said he has heard his female students say they are not good at technology because they’re a girl and that has always bothered him.

“That was a weird thing to me because I thought we were past that kind of thinking,” Strycker said. “When I was in graduate college, I heard brilliant women say similar things and I didn’t know if it was a gender thing or someone made them feel that way.”

Now being a faculty member Strycker said he supports a variety of international students with various cultures and traditions and is trying to be as sensitive as possible in how he presents himself.

“I promote good communication skills and understanding between diverse groups of people,” Strycker said. “I’m making sure their educational mission is honored and that they are learning the subject matter, but also learning about each other and how to build knowledge together.”

SIDE participants receive a certificate in diversity training and three continuing education units (CEU) after completing the four-day training.  

For more information about SIDE, visit the Office for Diversity and Inclusion website at https://www.ohio.edu/diversity/side.cfm.