Would you be able to recognize an incident of prejudice, prejudice or fanaticism in Rutgers? Would you feel empowered to step in if this happened in your auditorium or workspace?
These are some of the questions that the Rutgers Office of University Equity and Inclusion encourages Rutgers students, staff, and faculty to question themselves as part of its Talk it over ! University campaign to prevent prejudice, who launched this month.
Rutgers Today spoke to Joan Collier, Senior Director of Institutional Equity and Policy Initiatives, to learn more about the campaign and its moderated discussion series, “Education as a Disruption,” which explores the themes surrounding religious, disability, race, gender and sexuality prejudices on the first Wednesday of each month via Zoom. A recording of the first talk in the series, “Repair the damage, ”Is available on the campaign page. Registration is now open for the second virtual discussion on religious prejudice, which takes place on December 1.
What is an incident of bias?
An “incident of bias” is defined as an act – verbal, written, physical or psychological – that threatens or harms a person or group on the basis of race, religion, color, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender, real or perceived. identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, civil union, status of domestic partner, atypical heredity or cellular blood trait, military service or veteran status. It sounds like a long list, but it covers the many ways people think about and apply identity.
How would you describe Speak Up! campaign?
The speech! is a call to action for the Rutgers community to recognize and disrupt prejudice and the damage it causes. The goal is to encourage students, staff, and faculty to actively foster an inclusive community where members feel empowered to “speak up” or intervene, in a meaningful way, when indignities arise.
Talk it over ! also provides a banner under which Rutgers organizational units can align bias prevention education and skills building opportunities that give community members the tools to speak out with confidence and knowledge. During our moderated education as a disturbance series of discussions, participants will learn strategies for reacting in the moment to everyday prejudices, prejudices and stereotypes.
What questions can people ask themselves to help identify their own biases?
- What don’t you know, and why don’t you know? It can be comfortable to live in bubbles of identity that make us feel safe. This question encourages people to explore what might prevent them from expanding their understanding of other experiences.
- Are you open to learning about experiences, stories and realities that are different from your own? If not, why not? This question highlights that the differences can sometimes seem threatening to what we know to be true about our own experiences. It’s important to remember that a different perspective does not make it an opposite perspective.
What skills and knowledge would you like to have to enable you to disrupt internalized biases (biases that target your own group), personal biases (biases towards groups you do not belong to) or observed biases (prejudices that you have seen around you)? Building capacity and understanding the many ways in which we internalize stigma can help us overcome them. Having this self-awareness allows for self-reflection and allows us to disrupt these patterns.
What do you hope the Rutgers community takes away from this campaign?
Our learning and working environments on campus are not immune to hatred and acts of bias. The continued growth of respect and understanding of differences within our University community is essential to the success of our quest for a beloved community. I hope the Speak Up! The campaign empowers participants to affirm the worth of every member of our community and reminds us that we must be intentional and persistent in rejecting hateful rhetoric and actions.