SJU Partners with Anti-Defamation League

Monday, October 26, 2009

by Tom Clark '10

Saint Joseph's has taken important steps in fostering the growth of a more accepting University community. In the wake of two incidents of racial graffiti on campus last semester, the University entered into a partnership with the regional branch of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization that "builds bridges of understanding and respect between diverse groups," according to Randi Boyette, the associate regional director of the ADL in Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.

The partnership is aimed at reducing bias in all of its forms and educating the University community about various issues of diversity.  To do this, SJU is taking part in the ADL's "Campus of Difference" program, successfully employed by more than 250 colleges and universities across the country.

"'Campus of Difference' works to address diversity issues on college and university campuses by providing practical, experiential and hands-on training with skills to challenge prejudice and discrimination, to foster intergroup understanding and equip students, faculty, staff and administrators to live and work successfully and civilly in a diverse world," Boyette said.

In June and August, University administrators and student leaders, including resident assistants and freshman orientation leaders, were educated and trained to act as diversity trainers themselves through peer-to-peer and group workshops.

"We taught them how they can be agents of change and role models that continue to make Saint Joseph's the inclusive environment that it strives to be," Boyette said.

Vice President for Student Life Cary Anderson, Ed.D., saw great value in this particular aspect of the program.  Though students will not be required to undergo training, it is his hope that the knowledge and sentiments of those who have been trained will spread across campus through their programming efforts.

"By educating the resident assistants and orientation leaders, we hope they will be able to reach out to a lot of students, particularly freshmen and those in on-campus housing, and help further influence their thought processes on such issues," Anderson said.

Those who have gone through the program were also instructed on how to respond more effectively in the event of future incidents of intolerance or bias.

"There are never any guarantees that something won't happen," Anderson said. "But what we can do is work to become a better community, which we should always be striving for.  We always want to help make it a more welcoming environment for everyone, and that's what we're really trying to do with this partnership."

 




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