You might have seen some of your colleagues wearing a button with the inscription Same Struggle: Different Difference on it. The button also depicts four images representing civil rights; women’s rights; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered rights; and disability rights. This button was given to me originally by Kerri Clopton who bought it when she was at the National Association of Multicultural Education (NAME) Conference. I so appreciated this button because it reflects our strategic initiative of becoming a more open and affirming College of Education. Buttons are available in the Dean’s Office.
Our strategic goal 3 is to:
Create, maintain, and enhance a culture that is characterized by a proactive commitment to diversity, collegiality, and mutual respect.
This past semester we have made much progress toward this goal. We sent 14 people to the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) Conference in Chicago. We sent another 15 people as well 17 students to the Midwest Culturally Inclusive Conference in Platteville, Wisconsin. We also had over 150 attendees participate in the Thinking Inclusively at UNI & Beyond: Academic, Social, and Physical Access conference. The conference emphasized creating and sustaining inclusive working, learning, and recreation/leisure environments for all. The conference was organized by the Center for Disability Studies in Literacy, Language, and Learning and sponsored by the College of Education, Department of Special Education, and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Upcoming events include the African American Read–In and the African American Children and Families Conference which are both being coordinated by Gloria Kirkland-Holmes. Another event is the Race Exhibit at the University Museum that will be aligned with professional development workshops for faculty members, students, and area teachers which is being coordinated by Stephanie Logan. Also, the Transforming Practice through Culturally Proficient Teaching workshop will continue with two more to take place this spring. These workshops were also coordinated by Stephanie Logan. I have heard high praise about these initiatives and encourage others to attend future workshops.
Faculty members were embracing of this diversity goal when I was presented the multicultural books that are to be donated to the children’s collection in the library. I was truly proud of that moment, not only because it commemorated my 50th birthday, but because reading was such an instrumental part of my development. I was a prolific reader at a young age and I was encouraged by my local librarian to come to the library as often as possible. I want to profusely thank Kerri Clopton for coordinating this effort and for all of those who contributed.
I have enjoyed reading the copious books that were donated. One of the books that I truly enjoyed was Hooway for Wodney Wat which celebrated a young rodent who had a speech impediment. I remember growing up with an R controlled W problem and had to practice saying the sentence, The rural juror rode the railroad to the brewery. Another of the many books I enjoyed reading was Heather Has Two Mommies. This landmark book was written in 1987 and engendered much controversy at the time. Twenty years later, we are still struggling with critical affectional orientation diversity issues. The author commented on why she wrote the book. Her statement was that all children will only benefit as more books on diversity are published. Children need to see their words reflected and validated.
I applaud all of our diversity efforts and recognize that we too want our College to be validating and affirming to all of our learners as they prepare to educate, serve, and lead the next generation.