Equity the focus of discussion groups

The Maverick Diversity Institute will offer four discussions on Equity Engagement this semester that aim to help students, faculty and staff better understand the meaning of equity and inclusive environment.

Liz Steinborn-Gourley, the Women’s Center director, said the university hosts many lecture-format events. Equity Engagement events will focus more on discussions among attendees. 

“This is an opportunity for folks to come and participate in a discussion,” said Steinborn-Gourley. “As we’re working towards Equity 2030, getting more comfortable discussing these topics, when it’s not the division that you’re a part of or not something that you’re comfortable speaking about, is the goal.”

According to the university’s website, the “Minnesota State system’s Equity 2030 initiative vows to eliminate disparities among minority, low-income and first-generation students across all campuses.”

Each discussion will have a facilitator who will set the direction of talks and help attendees learn from what will be discussed. According to Steinborn-Gourley, the facilitators are shaping up to be the directors within the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office, such as the director of African American Affairs BalenciaSariah Crosby. 

“I have a five-slide PowerPoint that will be asking attendees to discuss topics in their groups and then talk about it,” said Steinborn-Gourley. “Then we will come back to the large group and discuss more about what we mean when we say something to help get folks on the same page. So there’ll be a lot of participation but also some guidance to the discussion.”

All discussion sessions will focus on different topics, all of which are focused on improving the campus environment.

“We did a climate study and there are opportunities for improvement,” said Steinborn-Gourley. “And so we want to talk about that. What’s the climate like for folks in the areas where they work and learn, and how can we contribute to a culturally inclusive multiculturalist environment?”

According to Steinborn-Gourley, equity work requires practice and attendees have an opportunity to do so safely.

“You can’t read a book and suddenly become an antiracist,” said Steinborn Gourley. “I would encourage folks to come as a space where we’re trying to create an environment for folks to practice safely. And I mean, safely in the feeling like they’re in support, not do it safely in a supportive environment.” 

Equity Engagement talks will offer refreshments for attendees. However, the event will also be hosted via Zoom for those who can’t physically present.

“We may break out into smaller breakout rooms because basically, we want folks to come get a gourmet hot cocoa, grab a bowl of popcorn, and then they can stand or sit at a table and have this conversation and so we’ll try and facilitate that same vibe as best we can on Zoom,” said Steinborn-Gourley. 

Equity Engagement discussions will occur every second Monday of the month starting at 3:30 p.m. Maverick Diversity Institute will offer more events focused on learning about and practicing equity and inclusion. Steinborn-Gourley said this is the way to continue to be involved in equity-related initiatives.

Write to Amalia Sharaf at

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