The debate over faculty diversity training

diversity training graphicThere have been numerous events held on campus to promote diversity almost every quarter. However  to the staff, it’s a different matter when it comes to training. The question lately on campus has been why there has not been mandatory training in diversity for newly hired staff. The question can be answered in some ways as there is mandatory training in diversity, for some selected staff.

Vice President of Equity and Plurism Yoshiko Harden explained that some staff have to attend mandatory diversity training if they are working with a specific committee. “Faculty and staff that participate on screening advisory committees, serve as hiring managers and or screening chairs, must attend the training and additional modules for specific roles such as a pluralism representative,” she said.

“If all staff, regardless if they were part of the Human Resources committee or not, were to attend mandatory diversity training, they would feel like they are being forced to attend it. That’s one of the reasons why staff that don’t work for special committees don’t have to attend mandatory diversity training,” said a BC employee that wished not to be named.

Harden also echoed the anonymous employees comment.

“I think that you can make staff attend mandatory diversity training but they will feel like they’re being forced to attend. Along with this, their awareness in regards to the issue that may be raised; however may not change their personal opinion on diversity.”

If every single staff member had to attend mandatory diversity training that would mean that many will feel like they’re forced to attend unnecessary training. As Harden said, it can raise faculty awareness, but not change any sort of personal view that an individual staff member has.

“If their paycheck is related to how someone interacts on a diverse level, then I believe that staff would not have an issue with any sort of mandatory training,” Harden says. However, even though there may not be mandatory diversity training for all staff, new employees still have to attend federally mandated training including Employment Opportunity Commission and training in regards to sexual harassment. Tom Nielsen, Vice President of the office of Instruction, said that there are voluntary activities available to faculty and staff that are coordinated by Faculty Commons. This also includes a review in regards to diverse needs.

In an email, Nielsen explained: “It is my hope that the review will include an analysis of the diverse needs and approaches that our new faculty hires bring to the institution. And, I hope that one of the outcomes of that analysis will be some new procedures or structures that will better support new faculty members as they join our college and proceed through the tenure review process.”