United We Stand campaign and lecture series receives award for outstanding commitment to diversity
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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the Department of Residence Life has a stated commitment to providing welcoming housing options to all of its students, as well as pursuing greater diversity and inclusivity programming options. The United We Stand lecture series and “I Stand For” campaign were started this year as a way for students to acquire a greater knowledge and appreciation for those who are different from them and to be able to better learn how to respect individual differences. Funding for the lecture series was made available through the work of Campus Programming and Relations as well as the Wilgus Hall Lecture Fund.
The Minority and Friends Network, founded in 1992 at the Oshkosh Placement Exchange, recently recognized the United We Stand lecture series with the Outstanding Commitment to Diversity Award. UW-Platteville received the award out of 60 sponsoring schools that could have nominated a program for consideration. A travel grant award was also bestowed upon Adam Iserman, a psychology major form Hazel Green, Wis.
UW-Platteville was specifically recognized for its United We Stand lecture series, but the campaign also included a poster campaign of each resident assistant staff holding signs that had specific campaign words like “Civility” and “Community,” as well as door decorations that were available to attendees of the lecture series.
“As a department, we saw the need for a unified respect campaign,” said Robin Gore, interim assistant director of Residence Life. “Our speakers provided opportunities for students to be exposed to more worldly concepts, and the campaign as a whole was made of many pieces put together to form a larger focus.”
Gore added in the application she submitted for the award that, “Diversity, in an educational sense, isn’t the liberal view of things, it’s the spectrum of knowledge and where they fall in between.”
The United We Stand lecture series included notable speakers who gave presentations throughout the year. Jane Elliot, best known for her controversial Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes social experiment, challenged her audience to consider the topics of racism and discrimination, particularly prejudices they might not have even known they had. Eva Vega spoke about diversity and awareness by inviting attendees to think about what lenses and mirrors exist in their own lives that may inhibit them from relating to traditionally underrepresented students and faculty. Zach Wahls, who grew up with his two mothers, spoke about understanding issues of sexuality and what it was like to speak before the Iowa State Legislature and become an Internet sensation. The most recent speaker, Alexandre Padilla, used economic data to debunk common myths surrounding both legal and illegal immigration.
Over 300 students attended each presentation of Wahls, Vega and Elliot, and about 100 heard Padilla speak.
“I hope students and faculty who attended the presentations took away knowledge of how to best approach certain challenges in their lives,” said Gore. “A crucial skill is being able to respectfully communicate with those who are different, as well as becoming well-rounded and a good representation of what UW-Platteville is about.”
“It was our goal that the lecturers challenged the students who attended to think outside of the box,” said Linda Mulroy-Bowden, director of Residence Life. “After attending the presentations, students should have been able to view a different perspective and know that they were taking one more step towards creating more inclusive communities.”
Written by: Angela O’Brien, UW-Platteville Office of University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, firstname.lastname@example.org
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