Keynote speaker Steve Korr, International Institute on Restorative Practices, spoke during Pacific's 2013 Diversity Retreat, "Restoring and Strengthening our Community"
2013 Diversity Retreat Focuses on Building CommunityBuilding on past accomplishments, last week’s Diversity Retreat explored strengthening community at Pacific through restorative practices
Bringing back the All-University Diversity Retreat after a two-year hiatus, the University Diversity Committee on Friday focused on enhancing campus climate through restorative practices and offered practical information and tools that can be directly applied to benefit the community. This year's retreat, with the theme of "Restoring and Strengthening our Community," featured keynote speaker Steve Korr from the International Institute on Restorative Practices.
"I was both encouraged and inspired by the University-wide response to Pacific's 7th Diversity Retreat. Students, faculty, staff, senior-level administrators and even local community members were actively engaged in this opportunity to consider how we will continue to advance diversity and inclusion as well as improve campus climate," said Lisa Cooper, assistant vice president for Student Life. "Participants shared their appreciation for the space that was created to learn as well as to express opinions and share ideas."
Sessions covered introductions to diversity at Pacific and ways to get involved with diversity efforts on campus, understanding social justice and an overview of the Safe Zone program. Sessions on ways to support the classroom environment gave faculty members information on incorporating intercultural theory and practice into curriculum and strategies for making the classroom a more welcoming learning environment for all students.
During the working lunch, Cooper gave an overview of Pacific's accomplishments related to diversity since the first diversity retreat in 2006. Highlights included:
- improving and implementing a diversity course requirement (there are now nearly 60 diversity approved courses)
- approving a University Statement on Diversity and Inclusion
- updating the faculty diversity hiring plan and drafting staff hiring guidelines
- instituting a mentoring program for junior faculty of color
- development of a diversity and inclusive excellence scorecard
A significant impetus for further improvement was brought about through President Eibeck in 2013, who charged a University Diversity Task Force to write a Diversity Strategic Plan. In 2012, the task force completed its report and highlighted 10 recommendations. (Read the 2012 Diversity Report.)
During the Friday event, President Eibeck also gave remarks on the importance of creating a positive campus learning environment for all students, and keynote speaker Steve Korr gave an overview of the concept of restorative justice, which goes beyond the immediate handling of negative incidents to restoring individuals within the community through understanding, education and community building. On Saturday and Sunday, Korr also conducted a train-the-trainer workshop for several faculty, staff and students on restorative practices and how to facilitate meaningful dialogue toward community-building.
At the retreat, Cooper also announced the formation of the Bias Response Team (BRT) and encouraged attendees to help spread the word of this new resource. The BIRT was charged by President Eibeck to provide a safe and confidential resource for members of the University community to raise concerns regarding incidents of bias; to recommend and implement educational programs that raise awareness and uphold Pacific's commitment to inclusive excellence; and to help assess larger issues of the campus climate and make recommendations. More information on BRT is available at Pacific.edu/BIAS.
The Diversity Retreat also serves as a springboard for upcoming Campus Conversations that will be held throughout the school year, which will work toward building a more welcoming and inclusive living and learning community at Pacific. The first of these will occur on Thursday, Oct. 10, in Grace Covell Tiger Lounge.
Note: The noon Friday session of the Diversity Retreat was video-taped and will be made available through insidePacific in the near future. Watch for further announcements.