Wright State University’s Residence Life and Housing staff has introduced plans for new anti-racism and social justice training and education for this summer and the fall semester.
Faculty and student staff will participate in workshops and monthly discussions and re-evaluate existing policies for students.
Beginning these efforts, this summer the staff is reading “How To Be An Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi.
Jennifer Attenweiler, associate director of Residence Life, said she hopes the book can help the staff be better activists and allies for Wright State’s black students.
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“I wanted to challenge our professional staff and their thought process on what their own implicit biases may be,” Attenweiler said. “After that, this fall, we’re committed to challenging our students, when they return, to examine their beliefs, their own privilege and their bias.”
Savannah-Rae Jackson, a senior at Wright State, president of the school organization Black Women Striving Forward and Resident Advisor (RA), said she thinks the new initiatives will be helpful as long as individuals apply what they learn.
“I am pleased with what Resident Life is doing,” Jackson said. “Even though I have the black experience, there’s still more knowledge that I could learn, so these resources are helpful.”
Attenweiler said her staff is specifically looking at working with black residents to change any policies that hinder their success and/or livelihood on campus.
“[Evaluating] everything from how we respond to a crisis, how we have the police respond to situations and [asking], ‘Are there things that we do that currently make our black students feel uncomfortable?’ helps us gain a little bit more insight,” Attenweiler said.
Jackson said that as an RA, she tries to be an advocate for her black residents, and also tries to teach other students who aren’t black about their privilege.
“Even though what’s happening now has global attention, it still is something that was always present,” Jackson said, “so I definitely feel like I have more responsibility now.”
Attenweiler said the priority for her staff is the safety and comfort of students, and that she hopes that through these initiatives, people become more aware of racial injustice.
“The university and staff are just trying to get it right,” Attenweiler said, “to make sure we’re not just coming up with a statement, but that we’re also looking for ways to make actual changes in policy.”
Wright State University reported that in the Fall of 2019, 10% of the student body was African American, and 21.2% were minorities.