Newsletter Article

Diversity Steering Committee Stays Busy During the Year

The Diversity Steering Committee (DSC) once again worked with the Graduate Psychology Action Committee (GPAC) to select speakers for a series of Rapid Research Talks during the Department’s annual graduate student recruitment weekend in February 2015. The DSC is grateful to four speakers who shared their research on diverse communities: Karen Chang (Social Psychology and Personality with Yuichi Shoda), Nicole Stettler (Child Clinical with Lynn Fainsilber Katz), Andy Paves (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer), and Yuichi Shoda (Social Psychology & Personality). The speakers covered a broad range of topics.  Karen spoke about her work on how Asian Americans navigate sometimes conflicting cultural values.  Nicole discussed her dissertation research on the importance of emotion regulation and parenting for sexual minority youth.  Andy presented data on the mental health of the Filipino-American diaspora. Dr. Shoda shared recent findings demonstrating the need to better educate college students about the nature of racial differences.

The DSC also organized several opportunities for conversations about contemporary issues related to race and diversity in America. In the fall quarter, several DSC members and other faculty and graduate students in the Psychology Department came together to participate in an open dialogue about Ferguson, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner. Attendees were able to share their reactions to current events related to police brutality and race as well as discuss what psychology can uniquely contribute to these conversations. In the winter quarter, the DSC organized a trip to watch the movie "Selma," which portrays the United States in 1965, during a crucial period of the civil rights movement.

With the help of Carrie Perrin (Undergraduate Psychology Advising), the DSC also continued its annual diversity climate survey for undergraduates within the Psychology Department. They launched a similar diversity survey to understand the experiences and concerns of Psychology graduate students. A primary theme from the qualitative responses involved the negative experience of microaggressions in the classroom.  In digesting the survey data, the DSC has been exploring different ways to provide opportunities for conversations in the department about experiences of microaggressions and how to think through them as receivers, perpetrators, and witnesses.

One of the DSC’s first efforts toward this goal was to invite Dr. Geneva Gay from the College of Education to give a presentation titled, "Power, Privilege, and Difference: Dealing with Microaggressions in the Classroom." Dr. Gay spoke in the first-year graduate student Proseminar at the end of the spring quarter.  This session was open to graduate students of all years and department faculty as well.  Dr. Gay engaged the group in a discussion about how people can be held responsible for the microaggressions they commit, giving tips for how to avoid microaggressions and how to create productive learning environments and repair relationships when we perpetrate or witness microaggressions.

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