New diversity program offered to students

by Stephanie De La Cruz / Beacon Correspondent • October 25, 2012

Emersontalks tharp
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is now offering a program focused on diversity.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is now offering a program focused on diversity.

Students can now receive one non-tuition credit by participating in EmersonTALKS, an interactive diversity and inclusion leadership program. 

According to an email from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, students can receive the credit by completing a six-week-long training program and co-facilitating six sessions.

EmersonTALKS replaced a similar program called Campus Conversations on Race, according to Gloria Noronha-Peschau, the program coordinator at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. CCOR was also discussion-driven, but focused on race relations and racism.

According to Noronha-Peschau, the five-year-old program needed a change because students wanted to discuss issues other than those related to race, such as social justice, LGBTQ relations, and cultural issues.

Cathryn Cushner Edelstein, the faculty advisor of EmersonTALKS and scholar-in-residence for the Communication Studies Department said the increase in interest in the new program is because of the much broader content of inclusiveness. 

“The fact that we have a waiting list almost as big as we can take leads us to believe we would be offering a training session for spring as well. It speaks a lot that we listened to the students who asked for these changes,” Edelstein said.

According to Edelstein, after the training, a co-facilitator and participants have a  call to action project. 

EmersonTALKS’ first meeting was on Oct. 23. The group will meet every Tuesday until Dec. 4, according to the email. 

Sophomore Paul Almeida said the first session was enlightening.

“We are learning how to lead groups in an interesting manner, how to make people feel comfortable and get them to talk about these hard issues that most people don’t like to discuss,” said the political communications and marketing communications double major. 

Caroline Pallotta, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major, who came from a suburban area, enjoys learning about people of different backgrounds.  

“I don’t think I would have been open to [diversity] if I wouldn’t have applied,” she said. 

Almeida said that this program has the potential to bring the Emerson community closer.

“To be learning new skills gives us a better understanding of the way we can deal and talk about these race, gender, sexuality, and religion issues,” he said. “These issues and the conflicts that they have with each other can be dealt with productively. We can foster the sense of community at Emerson.”

Pallotta said she agrees that the program can help Emerson as a whole, but thinks more people need to get involved.

“It’s not just for the people who decided to sign up to the program it’s for the whole community. If it’s just twenty of us talking then nothing else is going to change,” she said.

Edelstein said she is excited by the amount of student interest in the new program. 

“These students who applied don’t know what the content is but just hearing the words diversity, inclusion and leadership makes them interested,” said Edelstein. “I think the message being sent to all of us is, ‘wake up, get involved.’”