University of Northern students, staff and faculty, along with members of the Cedar Valley community, dedicated three days last week to building understanding of social transformation. The workshop, Undoing Racism, was hosted by University of Northern Iowa and Allen College. It was organized by the Cedar Valley Citizens for Undoing Racism, a coalition lead by Belinda Creighton-Smith, a pastor at Faith Temple Baptist Church in Waterloo, and Cedar Falls Mayor Jon Crews.
The workshop was presented by The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, based in New Orleans. The People’s Institute considers racism the primary barrier preventing communities from building effective coalitions and overcoming institutionalized oppression and inequities. The Institute uses Undoing Racism workshops to help communities, organizations and institutions move beyond addressing the symptoms of racism to undoing the causes of racism.
An Undoing Racism workshop was presented in March and repeated in May. Twenty-four UNI members of the UNI community participated including these Student Affairs division employees: Jenny Connolly and Jamie Rathjen, Admissions; Jennifer Rezabek, Registrar; Ashley Lerch, Student Disability Services; Drake Martin and Ashleigh Crowe, Department of Residence; Kolby Knupp, Center for Multicultural Education; Jon Buse and Melissa Payne, Dean of Students Office; Gretchen Honsell, Counseling Center; and Mark Rowe, Wellness and Recreation Services.
Michael Blackwell, Director of the Center for Multicultural Education, organized UNI’s participation and hosted the March session at the CME.