Welcome new members!

Welcome to the Diversity Network blog, a source of information and resources for the Fleming community on issues of diversity, accessibility, equity and inclusion at Fleming College. Network members listed in the lefthand column are champions of diversity in their school or department and share information with their teams. To receive regular blog updates, become a blog "follower" by entering your email in the right hand box "Follow By Email". Resources can be found by clicking on the gold Diversity logo to the right.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

New session on Cultural Intelligence

On October 22nd, Diversity and International Student Services teamed up to offer a new workshop on cultural intelligence. Also known as intercultural competence, or CQ, cultural intelligence is "a person's ability to function skillfully in a cultural context different than one's own" (Tuleja, 2014, p. 6). We can "understand key cultural norms ... listen, observe, and alter (our) behaviour or communication preferences ... depending on the situation (p. 5). As educators and service providers, when we build our CQ, we create more inclusive spaces where people feel their culture is appreciated and their knowledge is validated.

This new session has been created specifically for Fleming employees and begins with important information about the Fleming student profile, including international students. We will introduce you to international and immigrant students who will share their experiences studying at Fleming and adapting to Canadian culture. Then we examine cultural intelligence, what it is, and how we can build our CQ in order to better serve culturally diverse students. We share some of the latest research on internationalizing the classroom, and practical resources for both teaching and personal learning.

Click on the gold diversity logo above (upper right) to access these resources or to see the presentation. To register for a session, go to the PD calendar. A schedule of upcoming sessions will be posted there soon.

Friday 22 August 2014

Fall 2014 news

Welcome to a new school year and some new iniatives in the Diversity Office!

I have returned from my professional development leave and I am resuming my role as Coordinator, continuing the work done during my absence by Ian Guest (accessibility) and Maryam Monsef (diversity and international student supports). I have heard about the positive impact they had here over the last 6 months, and I am really grateful to come back and find some new initiatives on the go!

One of these new projects I am coordinating is International Peer Mentoring. After a successful pilot project with students in the ESL program, we will be offering a broader program matching Canadian and senior international students with newly-arrived international students to help them adapt to their new community. Mentoring is an excellent way for Canadian students to learn about other cultures and for 2nd year international students to build their resumes with Canadian experience. Encourage students to get invovled.

Positive Space launches a new year with a Level One session on Friday, August 29th, 10:00 am. Students can register on the Student Life page by clicking on the Positive Space icon found at: https://mycampus.flemingc.on.ca/group/mycampus/campus_life
Employees can register through the PD calendar.

This Fall, another new program will be available; Cultural Competency training. Diversity and International are collaborating on an interactive session with our partners, the New Canadians Centre. This session will be available during the Week 8 Reading Break. In the meantime, there are some new resources here that may help you build your cultural competency, or for use in the classroom. Click on the gold Diversity logo above, and search under "cultural competency".

For more resources, contact me at diversity@flemingcollege.ca

Thursday 8 May 2014

A new face in the Diversity Office

Maryam Monsef
Hello Diversity Network members. I am back in the office briefly before I continue my leave of absence and I want to introduce you to Maryam Monsef in case you haven't met her yet since she joined the team in February. As interim Diversity Coordinator, Maryam is available to students and staff in room 405, Brealey campus and by email at diversity@flemingcollege.ca. Maryam is well known to many in the community as the face of the Red Pashmina campaign, raising funds for women in Afghanistan, and she brings many great skills to Fleming College. Make sure you say hello.

It is spring at last, and that means end of year reporting on our Inclusive College priorities that we targeted this year. It is a great time for employees and students to give us feedback on what is working well and what is not working well in the areas of:

- Aboriginal student supports
- Accessible education for students with disabilities
- International & immigrant student integration
- LGBTQ student safety
- Human rights awareness on all campuses

If you want to see what this committee has been working on this year, check out the link under the gold diversity logo on the top right. The work plan is there.

Employees will also soon receive an online survey from Fleming Data Research addressing internationalization at Fleming College and how we are creating an inclusive environment for international students. New partnership projects in Brazil (ACCC) and China (SPP) will mean more students will be arriving from these destinations. Our pilot Peer Mentoring program this past semester showed there was a big need for this program, so if you are a Canadian student, get involved and help a newcomer find their place here.

Meanwhile, take the opportunity to let your voice be heard and leave a post here, or send an email to diversity@flemingcollege.ca. Your anonymous comments will be shared with the Inclusive College Committee as it plans next year's action plan in June.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Fall 2013 - welcome back!

Welcome to all new students, faculty, and staff! The Diversity Network blog is a place you can find information and resources on a range of diversity issues that affect the environment we learn and work in. I hope you check in from time to time and catch up on the news.

This summer was a busy time preparing for the launch of our new Positive Space Level 3 Train the Trainer program, working with community partners to improve local ESL services, and preparing for my sabbatical starting September 21st. Stay tuned for my post the week of September 16th to learn more about the interim Diversity Coordinator starting that week. I will be checking in from time to time over the year and will be back in my position full-time next August.

Positive Space Level One will start up beginning Monday September 16th, 3pm to 5pm in room 377. If you are just joining this blog for the first time, scroll through some of my older posts to learn more about this anti-homophobia education program. You can register by emailing me at my new email address debbie.harrison@flemingcollege.ca

Meredith Pilley SSW faculty takes a pie from coordinator
Kirstin Parry for FAQS fundraiser
Train the Trainer is an exciting new session for those who have completed Level One and Two. While the focus is on giving students an opportunity to develop facilitation experience, we also welcome support staff and faculty who want to attend. It will be held Tuesday September 17th from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm and will include dinner. Students who complete the session and 2 practice facilitation sessions will be able to train other students in future Level One sessions. We have a new tool kit full of useful resources and lots of support lined up to ensure students enjoy the experience.

Karen Tembo and Kaitlin Hartford are Student Accessibility reps this year and they are busy making their presence known around campus, gathering feedback from students about their accessibility needs. A new accessibility action plan is approved and available on the Accessibility web page found under Services. New provincial laws are promoting a barrier-free Ontario by 2025 and the Fleming plan contains many great initiatives that will make the college more universally accessible to students and employees with disabilities. Later in September, Ontario Colleges is releasing a new Human Rights online learning module and all employees will have access through the portal.

We are also looking for new Diversity Network members who will help share information in their areas and give the Inclusive College Committee feedback on how to make the College more welcoming, safe, and inclusive. All employees are welcome, and all student feedback is appreciated.

Finally, for all student and employee human rights complaints, please contact the Fleming Human Rights Officer, Nick Duley, in Human Resources; nick.duley@flemingcollege.ca or ext. 1982.

Monday 8 April 2013

Drag Queen Barbie or Fashionable Farmer?

Positive Space sessions are continuing right up to the end of this week and the dialogue is expanding with more people asking "what is a positive space anyway?" and "how do I actually be an ally?" Over 800 students and employees have participated on 3 campuses this year. Thanks for all the support! This week's post is in honour of Day of Pink, Wednesday April 10th.

I've shared stories in past posts about how I've learned about diversity issues. The story I'm about to share lies deeper, in my family story and shows how our culture operates, conditoning how we see the world. When PARN educator Peter Williams talks about the cultural competency model in Level One, this is what he means - the deep heterosexual programming we all are immersed in like fish in water - invisible until we examine it from someone else's point of view.

I talked in my opening post for this blog about the rural, British-descent culture I come from, a cultural heritage many share here. The farming people I come from are practical, hard-working, and not very supportive of behaviour that seems overly expressive, loud, or emotional. They are conservative, yes, but not necessarily in the political sense. They are emotionally reserved. And they are actually startled and somewhat uneasy around people who express feelings or who have ideas that are beyond their direct experience. I meet people every day who come from this culture. Deep culture changes very slowly.

One of my brothers came out as a gay man in his late teens. He was an out-of-the-box guy, and he loved to challenge that rural culture with punk clothing (it was the 80's!), a pink mohawk, and lots of noise! It was hard to come out here, and he coped by being larger than life.
"Drag Queen Barbie" 2012
"No-nonsense" cultural programming has formed me and I remember struggling with his behaviour. I told him repeatedly that I had no problem with him being gay, all the while thinking in my head "But why do you have to be such a flamer?!" In my university women's studies class I started to see how I had been programmed to regard stereotypical male qualities as the best way to be human. Independent. Rational. Serious. Unemotional. And certainly not dressed like "Drag Queen Barbie" - not me and not my brother either! You'd never catch me in pink back then :-)

I had been treating stereotypically feminine behaviours as less valuable. I was unpacking the gender boxes and this was telling me part of the story of why "flamer" was raging in my head, all the while I was saying I accepted my brother being gay.

This is why we consider 'flamer' to be derogatory, as it says feminine or extroverted behaviour is not how a man should behave. This is the deep-culture pattern of thinking that is "homonegative", and it is actually way more prominent than homophobia. Even though I loved and accepted my brother, I still carried homonegative ideas. So if I don't stay conscious of my programming, I may be participating in reinforcing stereotypes without realizing it.

Do you have a story of a time you were challenged to rethink what it is to be a man or woman in the world? Feel free to comment. Or tell me what you think about Drag Queen Barbie.

And get your pink on!

Thursday 28 February 2013

Not White in a White world

This week the Issues in Diversity faculty team hosted an event in the Whetung Theatre at Brealey campus for Justice students. The topic was race and racism - a broad theme! Over 2 weeks, over 400 students participated, listening to 4 interesting individuals from the community talk about their experiences of racism.

So what is the race issue in 2013 anyway! The film we viewed proposed that race only has meaning when we look at it from a sociological perspective, after centuries of colonialism (A Film About Races). John Trudeau, currently working for Fleming in Frost Campus Aboriginal Student Services, agrees. John is an Anishnabe from the Serpent River First Nation in Northern Ontario and in his talk he stressed the impact of centuries of colonialism on Aboriginal peoples. Find John at jotrudea@flemingc.on.ca.

Carolyn Nicholson, a social worker who immigrated to Canada from Pakistan when she was 21, talked about racist experiences at Customs, as well as the tough time her sons had integrating into high school in Sault Ste Marie. Her son Jeremy Dias is founder of Day of Pink, a foundation he started with funds from his settlement after winning a human rights claim against his high school for not protecting him from harassment.

Charmaine Magumbe, a Jamaican Canadian also from northern Ontario (Sudbury) talked about the discrimination she and her children have experienced at school, work, and at church. For her race and racism are old stories she wishes to leave behind. She helps other Black families find support as co-founder of the Afrocentric Awareness Network of the Kawathas. You'll find more info about AANK here: http://ppcii.ca/pdf/Multicultural%20Organizations%20of%20PeteboroughPUBLICDisplay.pdf

Michael Ma, an antiracist researcher, challenged students to think about being White ("so if people from Turkey are Arab but Greeks are White, and Turkey and Greece are neighbours, who exactly is White and why?") Mike is a faculty member in the Department of Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia and is visiting Peterborough where he has worked as Coordinator of Community and Race Relations. http://www.racerelationspeterborough.org/

As the Diversity Coordinator, I get to use my background in community development to collaborate with local agencies working with immigrants, racialized communities, and many other groups of people who experience marginalization. Working with great people like these in the community helps me to constantly challenge my white privilege so I don't get stuck in my own White worldview. Charmaine joked that she was my only Black friend in Peterborough who could come out to the panel (she likes to keep me on my toes :-) but the truth is whether personal friends or professional contacts, I like making my network available to students and faculty. If you need community resources, drop by Brealey 405 or contact me and I will be happy to connect you.

Also, check out the resources linked at the top right of the blog (gold diversity logo). I have reorganized the resources by topic so they are easier to locate.

Friday 4 January 2013

When language lets you down

Happy New Year and welcome to the Fleming Diversity blog if this is your first time joining us.

This past fall has been a busy season launching the Positive Space Education Program on campuses in Peterborough, Lindsay, and Haliburton. To date, 128 students and employees have participated in the introductory session, Shifting OUTlook, and we're getting ready to launch Level Two: Being an LGBTQ Ally on January 22nd (6 to 8 pm at the Brealey campus, room 631). RSVP at debharri@flemingc.on.ca.

The first thing we are learning is that we need a vocabulary to even start the conversation. What does gender identity have to do with orientation? What is homonegativity and how does it play out in the halls or in the classroom? And of course what does the "alphabet soup" of LGBTQ (I,TS, A, etc.) mean? Our PARN facilitators are great at unpacking all this language so we are more confident to express ourselves on the topic.

We are hearing from students that for some, labels just make the problem worse and what they want is to have more fluid identities. Just naming themselves "queer" is enough. For others, even that feels like a box.

For many people though, the boxes are still quite simply "this is what it is to be male" or "this is what it is to be female" and any expanded awareness beyond traditional gender roles helps stretch us and challenge our stereotypes.

So as we look at all the new vocabulary that has emerged over the last 20 years to describe our diverse experiences around sex and gender, here is one term that leaps up off the pages at me, as I remember an experience I had in my 20's when I was working in a women's shelter in Toronto. A memorable learning event in my life when my lack of language really let me down.

I was asked to welcome and do the intake for a new client entering that afternoon in the single women's building. My supervisor filled me in on her background. She was single, in her mid-20's, and had been evicted from her apartment. This client's sister was staying in the family house with her children. And she was a "hermaphrodite" waiting for sex reassignment surgery. (Now we no longer use this term, long replaced by the term "intersex", as we have discussed in our training session.)

I prepared to meet "Cassie" and give her my best Omemee farm girl welcome, as we knew some of the clients (and even staff) might have a problem accepting her. She arrived, dressed casually in jeans and a hoodie, long blond hair with no particular style, and a five o'clock shadow appearing on a broad face without make-up. Here's how the welcome went:

"Hi there, welcome to the residence" (shaking her hand warmly) "The family resemblance is unmistakable, you must be Cassie, Rachel's brother ... I mean sister ... I mean ...???" and that was where my preparation left me, flat on my red face with no where to crawl away to. All the country charm and good intentions in the world couldn't undo the fact that I did not know how to have this conversation with Cassie. I was responding to her based on my cultural programming, that anyone with facial hair was male, despite knowing Cassie was in transition. I was acting unconsciously.

Luckily for me she was generous and laughed me through it, but I felt a kind of shame that made me hunger to know more so I would never do this again. Of course, I did make plenty of other mistakes, on a range of diversity issues - this is lifelong learning!

Join us for Level Two: Being an LGBTQ Ally, as we practice what we've learned together, through case studies and small group discussions with student leaders from the Fleming Ass'n of Queer Students.

If you are an employee, register through the PD calendar.

If you are a student, send me an email at debharri@flemingc.on.ca