Wednesday, February 22, 2017

OUC Diversity event sparks discussions about key issues in South Central Ohio’s evolving workforce environments


Ohio University Chillicothe hosted a diversity discussions event on campus Feb. 21 to engage students and faculty in talks centered around dynamic workforce environments and the role diversity plays in them.  

More than 25 students participated in the come and go, round table discussions with topics aligned to some of the most popular degree paths at OUC. From diversity in nursing to the issues surrounding the law enforcement community to understanding LGBTQ concerns in other career fields, faculty members served as moderators, encouraging open and honest dialogue among students.

Mary Ellen Rapp, a sophomore at OUC studying wildlife conservation, shared her thoughts on the first diversity discussion event she’s ever participated in.

“I think it’s important to get everyone’s thoughts out there,” she noted. “And also, [figure out] what does diversity mean to everyone? It’s a broad subject and it has a different meaning to everyone. We all come from different backgrounds and diversity may mean something more to one person than another.”

The table that Rapp was sitting at focused on diversity in the science field and what that entailed. She relayed that student-centered dialogue hit on topics such as the meaning of diversity to each of them, employer hiring practices and stereotypes in the workplace.  

When asked why these kinds of events are necessary and relevant to today’s conversations, Rapp explained, “I think people just need to have an open mind. I don’t think that your genes or your family history should matter on who you are, or who your friends are or where you get employed. It should focus on your character, what you bring to the table. Who you are as a person should matter more.”

Faculty moderators included those who have personal ties to understanding the complex environment diversity can bring about in their fields.

Ronald Edwards, adjunct faculty for the Law Enforcement Technology program, shared his experiences as a former police officer and military first sergeant with students both inside and out of the LET program.

He discussed the evolving nature of race, ethnicity and community policing and how it’s important for police officers to understand the emerging environments and work together to create community advocates.

Additional moderators included Ronald Vance for nursing, Greg Obi and Tayna Hire for business and Mary Ellen Rapp, who served as student moderator for Science.

Ashlee Rauckhorst, coordinator of student activities, developed this program for OUC students after her work at the University of Georgia’s Gwinnett Campus. She noticed the need for this type of programming, since regional campus students are often busy outside of school with families, work and other responsibilities.

“Campus engagement is important for student success and a well-rounded college experience, she explained. “This event gives students the opportunity to do that in a manner that is comfortable and not incredibly time consuming. Additionally, students are able to learn something and provide their opinions in a safe and respectful environment.”

This diversity event is one of several that are held each semester. New themes are brought to life each time an event is planned, in order to keep the conversations relevant to today’s issues. The next diversity event will take place in the fall.



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