Tuesday’s inclusivity workshop to talk diversity in universities

Allison Little, Staff Reporter

People can learn how to create inclusive spaces at Eastern on Tuesday in room 1220 of Booth Library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Christy Pichichero, associate professor of modern and classical languages at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, is hosting the workshop.

Suzie Park, assistant dean of Pine Honors College and English professor at Eastern, said anyone can attend the event and there will be free Jimmy John’s sandwiches and Starbucks coffee.

Pichichero said George Mason University has nearly 40,000 students and is the “most diverse university in the commonwealth of Virginia.”

She said she came to Eastern to inform the campus and surrounding community about the importance of creating more inclusive spaces in a diverse world.

“These are issues that are near and dear to me, and I think that a state school setting where our mandate is really to serve and represent the people … to be able to talk to people so that they acknowledge what a special thing it is to be in a public university and that if we take that to heart, we can really make transformative changes that will serve better the diverse population that is here,” Pichichero said.

The workshop is for everyone on campus to come and learn about inclusive spaces, Pichichero said.

“This workshop is geared towards students as well as faculty and administrators in order to help people think together about how to create inclusive spaces here at Eastern Illinois University,” Pichichero said.

The workshop will start by getting attendees to think about the diversity in the student population, Pichichero said.

“The beginning part is to sort of attune the group to this notion that maybe the student body doesn’t look exactly what you think it looks like from your experience in your classroom or who you see at any particular event,” Pichichero said.

Pichichero said the event is about how everyone on university campuses are individuals.

“We really dive into a discussion of the fact that the university is not a place where we have human beings that are minds on legs, just walking around,” Pichichero said. “We have hearts, we have bodies and identities and we’re really affected by the world around us, so we actually bring our whole selves to class every day, to our jobs on campus, to our offices and to our classrooms, and that goes for students and for faculty and for administrators too.”

Pichichero said the point of the workshop is to think about not only the space itself but the people who use it.

“I sort of try to put this forward to create the main argument which is that spaces are not just about spaces,” Pichichero said. “Spaces are about people, and so in order to think about inclusive space you have to think about the people who are going to inhabit those spaces and that you will be one of those people.”

Allison Little can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].