Ball State introduces 'We Soar' campaign to embrace diversity on campus

<p>Participants in the &quot;We Soar&quot; Day of Dialogue stand in front of Beneficence Sept. 14. The kickoff event aimed to encourage conversation about diversity in classrooms between faculty, staff and students. <strong>Mackenzie Rupp, DN</strong></p>

Participants in the "We Soar" Day of Dialogue stand in front of Beneficence Sept. 14. The kickoff event aimed to encourage conversation about diversity in classrooms between faculty, staff and students. Mackenzie Rupp, DN

Ball State’s new “We Soar” campaign will encourage faculty, staff and students to expand their worldview to make the university’s campus a more inclusive place.

The campaign includes programs to educate participants on diversity and inclusive excellence, and will end with a campus-wide climate survey sent to faculty, staff and students at the end of the spring 2022 semester.

“It’s a one-year engagement strategy around culture and climate at Ball State,” said Marsha McGriff, associate vice president for inclusive excellence, in May 2021.

Events will be held at the new Brown Family Amphitheater and Multicultural Center, and McGriff said they will be advertised on a website “that is being built to coincide” with the project. The “Day of Dialogue” event, which encouraged students and staff to have discussions about diversity in classrooms, took place in front of Beneficence Sept. 14.

“Gathering feedback for feedback’s sake is a great exercise,” McGriff said, “but what do you do with that information? We want to be good stewards of what we learned today, and what we learned about that culture and climate survey in the spring, to augment our current strategic plans to be in real time based upon real-time information, so that we can have real lasting and meaningful change.”

The goal for the Day of Dialogue event, McGriff said, was to jumpstart the inclusive excellence plan for the culture and climate survey in spring 2022 and to help “build a culture of inclusion.”

“This is a kickoff for all of that which will culminate with a culture climate survey in the spring of 2022,” McGriff said.

Marissa Lockhart, a second-year graduate student in emerging media design and development, is the intergroup dialogue coordinator for the Office of Inclusive Excellence. Lockhart said she wanted to get involved with the “We Soar” campaign because she wants to improve “not only the quality of life for students, but the quality of the education [they] receive.”

“In the end, this is a beneficial program and this survey is going to be something that gives us a lot of insight of what we need to do better.”

The campus culture and climate survey will be sent out to all Ball State students, faculty and staff in early February 2022 and will be available for six weeks.

“I want the community to know that we are really striving to just make Ball State better,” Lockhart said. “We just want to bring people in to make sure everyone knows how important diversity is.”

The inclusive excellence team is ambitious with what this survey will lead to. McGriff said that the last survey was done nearly a decade ago. Melinda Messineo, faculty fellow in the Office of Inclusive Excellence, said the inclusive excellence team investigated how to improve the university core curriculum after the last survey.

“One of the things that was looked at after the last survey was our curriculum, and trying to figure out, ‘are there ways that we can bring in different voices, different perspectives into the curriculum, specifically in the core curriculum,’” Messineo said.

Part of the process was the inclusive excellence team looking at the curriculum’s books, resources and assessments and working to decolonize the curriculum to teach a diverse set of perspectives in core classes. The purpose of having another survey is to continue with what they have already accomplished. 

“There’s always room to grow,” Messineo said.

The inclusive excellence team’s goal is to get 100 percent of the campus community to fill out this survey in the spring. 

“I can’t define what will make you feel inclusively valued,” Messineo said. “That’s why we want everybody to participate in the survey this spring.”

In addition to gaining a better understanding of the campus community’s feelings on diversity and inclusion, Messineo said completing the survey will allow everyone to reflect on their own actions toward following the Benefience Pledge.

“This is ambitious, this is really trying to build it across campus. And that’s why we’re doing it today — in the shadow of Beneficence — to really live those values of Beneficence that we really hold dear,” Messineo said.

Contact Krystiana Brosher with comments at krystiana.brosher@bsu.edu or on Twitter @Krystiana_21. Contact Mackenzie Rupp with comments at msrupp@bsu.edu or on Twitter @kenzieer18.

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