SIU professor to speak on Eastern’s inclusivity status

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Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

A Southern Illinois University professor will be returning to Eastern Monday to review her findings from students’ personal concerns dealing with sexism, racism and other issues affecting marginalized groups of people.

Rachel Griffin, a professor of communication, is a critical intercultural scholar who conducts research dealing with critical race theory, black feminist thought, gender violence and other studies. Griffin has been a guest speaker at many campuses in the country, according to the press release.

Richard Jones, a professor of communication studies, is a friend of Griffin and had the idea to have her come visit the campus.

Dagni Bredesen, the director of faculty development, said Griffin was a graduate student of Frank Tuitt, an associate provost for inclusive excellence at the University of Denver, who visited Eastern last spring to discuss how to make the campus more inclusive.

Inclusivity is a principle designed to help colleges and universities to intergrade multiple facets of diversity into their academic and institutional setting.

Bredesen said Griffin coming to campus is essentially a continuation to what Tuitt spoke about during his visit last spring.

Griffin also visited the campus earlier in October to meet with various faculty and staff members of the Making Excellence Inclusive focus group. Not only did Griffin meet and speak with the focus group members, she also listened to the concerns of students on the campus in a separate and private gathering.

From what members of the focus groups and students have said, she will tailor her keynote address to Eastern’s specific needs.

“This is a culmination of her research,” Bredesen said.

Griffin will again have two separate sessions on her visit Monday.

The first will be a workshop from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Martin Luther King Jr. Charleston-Mattoon Room. It will be faculty members and graduate students only titled “It’s a Struggle, It’s a Journey, It’s a Mountain that you Gotta Climb.”

During the workshop, Griffin will discuss her research and findings with the experiences of African-American males in the academic setting on predominately white campuses.

In this study, there were five focus groups, 29 black male students and 11 interviews with black male faculty members.

Griffin’s second session will be the keynote address from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall.

It is for all members of the university titled “The Day the Mountains Move has Come.” This keynote will focus on systemic privilege and marginalization, which encompasses racism, sexism, heteroism, classism and ableism. The address will question whether or not these issues stifle the ability for campuses like Eastern to flourish and how can the campus work toward becoming an emblem of inclusivity.

Bredesen said this keynote is an exceptionally important event for all students and faculty; she said everyone should attend, no matter of gender, race or sexual orientation.

“This is not just for minority students and faculty,” Bredesen said.

Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]