Ok so almost 3 months later I am finally posting my Thesis progress. My hope was to post weekly but we will see. Anyways, here is what I Have so far. Feedback is welcome and appreciated.
Housing and Residential Life at Eastern Washington University has been working toward training student staff members (Community Advisors) in how to have conversations across difference. In the current political climate and on the cusp of an election year, we saw a dire need to ensure that our student staff were prepared to engage in and help mitigate conversations across difference.
Eastern Washington University is a mid-sized public institution in Eastern Washington, students enrolled for Fall 2015-2016 was 12,361 with 56% female and 44% male. Diversity falls at about 29% and 3% for international students. EWU is the best value public institution in Washington State, with 75% of the student population receiving financial aid. Another fact to note is that % are first generation college students.
In recent months the University has increased in communication showing the commitment to diversity and creating an environment of inclusivity. We have seen students on campuses across the nation engaging in sit ins, protests, and voicing concerns regarding not feeling included on campus and or system change. We have also seen campuses struggle to meet the needs of students all while making the effort to start the conversation and hear student concerns. While some others have not been as responsive to the demands of students.
At EWU the Department of Housing and Residential in an effort to be proactive hired a social justice and diversity facilitator. The hope was that we help our student leaders to explore self and identity, then in the long term explore more complex issues around social justice and inclusivity. It is also an imperative for student leaders to have a certain skill set in order to work with all different types of people. Not only the students they oversee but also in relation to peers who may be different and see the world differently from them.
Housing and Residential Life at EWU employs 65 Community Advisors which are all full time students. In recent year there has been a bigger push to hire staff that are more representative of students living on campus. Specifically there has been a consistent struggle to employ students of color for the role of community advisor. Since there has been an effort to recruit and retrain students of color we have seen an increase in staff of color.