LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus established the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance, or IDEA, in the fall of 2019. The group’s primary objective is to promote inclusion, diversity, and equity on and off campus — through curricular and co-curricular opportunities; partnership with underserved populations and organizations in the community; outreach, recruitment, and retention of students and employees; and social justice education.
Charles Patrick, chancellor and chief academic officer, serves as the chair of the group, which consists of 17 faculty and staff members representative of a wide array of campus functions and identities.
“There is an urgency for the IDEA’s work at Penn State Fayette,” said Patrick. “Through words and actions, we must foster a safe environment, educate our students and colleagues in social justice advocacy, expand access, and address disparities. This is daily work for which we all must be accountable, and which IDEA will lead.”
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, IDEA facilitated a showing of King's “I Have a Dream” speech (1963), followed by a campus discussion. The event will be held annually, in addition to screenings and discussions of other social justice films.
The group is at work on developing employee training to be offered at the kick-off meeting held at the beginning of each academic year. Additionally, IDEA, in collaboration with students and the Office of Student Affairs, is assembling a Multicultural Student Association.
"I think many members of our campus community may be unaware of social problems, the source of them, and the way they affect each one of us,” said Julio Palma, assistant professor chemistry and member of IDEA. “We live in polarizing times, and having an alliance committed to pursue inclusion, diversity and equity initiatives on our campus is imperative for the growth and strengthening of our community and will better prepare our students for success.”
IDEA has outlined several initiatives for the future. Projects will include an open house for prospective first-generation college students; an internal directory of faculty, staff and community thought leaders and topic experts; regular professional development workshops and focus groups; discipline-specific diversity lectures; enhanced admissions support for underrepresented populations; increased accessibility at events; and the promotion of language awareness.
IDEA will also provide counsel across campus departments, such as human resources, and advise marketing and communications efforts to expand representation and carry-out social-justice campaigns.
Additionally, IDEA plans to contribute programming to the Student Activities Calendar — including diverse speakers, performers and panels — which is developed each semester by the Office of Student Affairs and the Student Activities Advisory Council (SAAC).
“Our hope for the future is that IDEA and SAAC will be able to utilize each other’s membership to support and promote our respective cultural and diversity programming, as well as collaborate on new initiatives,” said Chad Long, director of Student Affairs and member of IDEA.
“By exposing students to diversity of cultural and societal differences, we’re preparing them to be more open-minded, accepting and inclusive in life as they begin to meet and work with individuals of varied backgrounds inside and outside of the classroom. By creating an inclusive campus, we’re creating an environment in which students can thrive together and see that diversity strengthens a community.”