From the Desk of the Chief Diversity Officer

As I write this note, “relaxing” during the fall break and after the nationwide Thanksgiving celebrations, I want to be particularly mindful when being grateful for the many things in my life today; having a job is top on the list given our current situation at MIIS.

Even more thankful for my many privileges, which I know I have even when it feels like I have no choices.  It is this theme of thanksgiving that I like to stay with while rejecting the historical story of celebration. Being reminded of our privilege, and being grateful for everything we have is never a bad thing. 

This sixth issue emphasizes the importance of staying healthy without forgetting why we do what we do. We, at MIIS, work to build a better, healthier, safer, and just community, and we do this in large part through our students. Underlying all of our learning is about knowing our privilege and building empathy. The former is about self-reflection, which we do engage in, but the latter is something that we hope we will have or will develop with all the knowledge we gain. That leads me to the question: does more knowledge lead to more empathy or less empathy? While we hope empathy will increase by the time our students leave MIIS, I worry that because of the knowledge we have acquired, we think we know best; we impose our values, beliefs, and behavior on others. We want the world to be like us, look like us and speak like us even if we say we are inclusive. This issue becomes apparent when we talk about self-care (do we consider the time, resources, and the cultures of others when we practice self-care?) or work-life balance (how do we sound to a person who has to work three jobs just to keep themselves and their families alive?).  Empathy is a tricky business and involves life-long learning. Both self-care and work-life balance are explored in this issue, and I hope these articles will stimulate your thought. 

I am also very proud to present the efforts made by many others on our campus to build inclusivity.  We are gaining traction in our efforts to make our campus more inclusive.

Finally, I must say that I have enjoyed engaging with so many of you through the community building focus groups. It has been fun, challenging and encouraging – all at the same time – listening to everyone. I have great hopes for us as a community and I look forward to sharing my findings with all of you late in the spring semester. 

I wish you all a wonderful holiday full of celebrations and peace.