Faculty and staff came together Thursday in the Kim T. Adamson Alumni House for a conversation with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion about the importance of inclusivity in the classroom, particularly in regards to disability.
“This year is the first time we have done something like this, and thus far it’s been a really rewarding, participatory conversation we’ve had with faculty and staff,” said Tamara Stevenson, a communication professor and the event’s host.
Attendees watched a video from anti-racism activist Jane Elliott to spark dialogue about how teaching diversity and inclusion impacts students.
“A lot of the tables talked about a universal design for learning, and that’s something great to see more of at Westminster, to see more opportunities to understand and implement it,” said Christie Fox, director of retention and student success.
One of the discussions was about a science teacher who didn’t have the resources to make her lab classroom accessible to a student in a wheelchair. At Westminster, professors agreed situations like that need to be considered before they come up, so students who need accommodations don’t feel singled out.
“Even the classroom structure or the classroom arrangement has utility to consider,” Stevenson said.
Faculty and staff left the meeting with tools to make their teaching more diverse and inclusive.
“I feel like it was a great discussion,” said Sylvia O’Hara, director of veteran and military services. “It was really interesting to be [with] staff and talk about teaching on the staff side with the rest of the faculty and leave with, like, actual action items of things to read and how to implement them on campus.”