The Center for Diversity and Inclusion hosted their annual Diversity Institute

This year’s theme Classism: The Last Socially Accepted Prejudice? prompted participants to think critically about classism and how this invisible identity impacts individuals on both personal and systemic levels. The one-day diversity education experience began with a brunch featuring keynote speaker Dr. Tanya Williams and concluded with Diversity Talks – TED Talk style presentations led by Ellen Whitehead, Doctoral Student at RICE University and Eureka Gilkey, Site Manager for Project Rowe Houses.

I really enjoyed learning how family support affects classism as well as learning about Project Rowe Houses – an initiative in Houston I knew nothing about” stated Diversity Institute participant when asked about their experience at the Diversity Talks session. Diversity Institute offered educational breakout sessions and featured a student track and a faculty/staff track. Educational sessions included conversations on combating classism within the classroom, experiences of middle-class African American women and mental health, and broadening diversity and inclusion discussions to include class. This year’s event also included and a research poster session featuring students from the College of Education, and the Graduate College of Social Work.

By sharing her own story with classism, Houston native and keynote speaker Dr. Tanya Williams’s remarks shed light on the ways classism is perpetuated throughout society, and her conversation expanded to include class privilege and the behaviors often time not associated with class. Throughout her talk she highlighted four reasons why we fail to discuss or recognize class and ended her keynote by providing tools on how the audience could be more aware of class and the ways classism manifest within our everyday interactions.

“The keynote speaker was incredibly amazing and I learned so much from the breakout sessions. I definitely learned more about the idea of classism and I realized that I did not know as much about the topic as I thought I did. I appreciate the time I spent there because I learned many new things” stated Diversity Institute participant.

“The Center for Diversity and Inclusion’s goal was to provide space for the campus community at Diversity Institute to think about the ways we unknowingly perpetuate classism and how we can better support individuals within our communities that identify within a range of class statuses” stated Diversity Education Coordinator, Adria Terry. “By understanding an individual’s experience with class, individuals can begin to alter their behaviors and stand up to systems that perpetuate classist behaviors.”

Diversity Institute –one of the Centers signature programs was held on April 12th. Speakers and presenters did an excellent job of challenging participants to think critically about classism. Through many platforms the Center continues to educate and engage students, faculty and staff around topics of diversity and inclusion. Learn more about services offered through the Center for Diversity and Inclusion