Being part of the Graduate Business Council (GBC) has allowed me to focus on an aspect of student life that is very near and dear to me: Diversity & Inclusion. This year, we’ve revamped the committee to offer more robust programming to Boothies and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Diversity committee within GBC had historically been a catch all. It was a way to support the diversity affinity groups (mainly AAMBAA, HABSA, AFG, OUTreach and CWiB). This changed when 2Y Andrea Mazzacco took over as committee lead. Her first step was to change the name from Diversity Committee to Diversity & Inclusion. Andrea explained, “When I became the committee lead, I wanted to make sure that we were focused not just on celebrating diversity but also on building a more inclusive environment at Booth and beyond. I envisioned a committee that would implement programming geared towards educating fellow classmates on D&I issues and equipping them with inclusion skills that they could use at Booth and in the workplace.”
As a committee we spent some time asking ourselves, what do we want this committee to accomplish and how do we do that?
Being the Boothies we are, we went to our favorite tool – data. We surveyed students to collect their thoughts. Equally important, we invited all of Booth’s affinity groups in to hear directly from them – what were their pain points? What support did they need? How could we work together and what kind of programing did they want to see?
The result was three student coalitions:
1. Allyship series – formal programming around allyship, what it means, and why it is important
2. Tough Conversations – informal gatherings where “tough topics” are discussed
3. Diversity Week – a week-long celebration of the diversity of our student body
“We wanted to get as many people involved in these initiatives as possible, so we decided to create three coalitions comprised of members of the student body to focus on these efforts. We put out a call for student applicants to join the coalitions and ended up having over 30 students get involved,” explained Andrea.
The idea was for the coalitions to be student run, thus allowing Booth students outside of GBC to take ownership and control of the kind of programming they’d like to see. So far, we’ve held a number of events including a student panel to kick off the Allyship series, a Allyship 101 session where students heard from Vice Provost Melissa Gilliam, who leads UChicago’s D&I Initiative, and an Ask Me Anything session where students, faculty, and staff came together to speak about deeper conversations.
The Tough Conversations series is also underway. Through the coalition, we have trained 30 facilitators who will lead small group discussions in various topics such as Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, Racism, Gender Discrimination, Politics, and Religion & Spirituality. These are topics we don’t normally discuss in class or in the Winter Garden and developing a safe space for students to explore and discuss these topics was incredibly important. Our pilot program has seen about about 50 students sign up to participate in the pilot. The hope is that best practices and lessons learned from the pilot can be used to scale to a wider program in the following quarters.
The third and final student coalition is Diversity Week. “I’m really excited about all the events and programming we have in store to bring together allies and affinity groups, and I look forward to having this celebration of diversity become a mainstay of Booth long after our class is gone,” explained Diversity Week lead, David Noel (1Y). Set to take place in the fall quarter, Diversity Week will be a week-long celebration of Booth’s diverse student body and will serve as a strong kickoff for the new academic year’s D&I programming.