On Tuesday, February 4, 2020, Dr. Dereck Rovaris, LSU’s Vice Provost for Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer, led 31 LSU Libraries faculty and staff through the LSU Office of Diversity’s Diversity 101 Workshop.
Last organized by LSU Libraries Diversity Committee in May 2018, this training addressed the ways in which all people are diverse and encouraged attendees to explore and challenge their own “preconceived paradigms” as they relate to encountering difference. Rovaris achieved this purpose through cognition activities and encouraging dialogue between attendees. Attendees discussed their childhood memories, which demonstrated the generational variance among them as well as between them and the current student body that the Libraries serves. Rovaris also outlined the difference between intent and impact when it comes to words and actions, which he further illustrated with examples of common microaggressions. He closed by emphasizing the need for both diversity and inclusion. He described the former as “…being invited to the dance…” while the latter as “…being asked to dance when you get there.”
Antonia Aultman, Circulation Student Supervisor and Vice Chair of the LSU Libraries Diversity Committee, said that although she is involved in diversity work in the Libraries, she still gained some new insights from the workshop. “I’ve been to the workshop twice and I’ve learned lots about the changing world and myself. I feel like I have a better understanding of preconceived paradigms that already exist in society and how they may be feeding my own biases. This workshop encourages me to continue working on myself to be a more understanding and inclusive person at work and out in the world.” As for the work of the Committee, it is Aultman’s hope that programs such as this one will encourage more library employees to participate in the Committee.
The Diversity Committee has been instrumental in bringing about new initiatives relating to the recruitment and retention of faculty and staff of color and educational programs that investigate and celebrate all kinds of diversity.