YSU RISE Cultural Competency Workshop

By Nami Nagaoka

Youngstown State University’s Culture of Community held two cultural competence training workshops in the morning and afternoon on Saturday.

Approximately 30 people attended the morning workshop, and about 10 YSU student leaders participated in the afternoon workshop.

Jesse Thompson, an assistant dean at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, had a presentation on the topics of Making Inclusion Work, Serving Underrepresented and First Generation Students, Strategies for Community Inclusion and the Task of Community and University Leaders.

“When we put people together into the discussion that offers different perspectives, that’s where I believe we come out with the best answer,” Thompson said.

“Cultural competence is being comfortable in the environment as well as engaging in the other community, with knowing the general cultural background no matter what group of people I am with.”

He said some people make judgements not culturally competent such as calling someone a b—h, or mentioning the color of their skin.

“I want [people] to understand that this community you exist in can’t be productive without [the university and the community] coming together,” he said.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 27.5 percent of employers plan to hire international students, making it the second lowest group since 2012.

William Blake, the director of Student Diversity Programs, said President Jim Tressel started the Cultural RISE Community. The community, promoted through the Division of Multicultural Affairs, consists of four subcommittees: respect and well-being, inclusion and awareness, spirit and tradition and excellence through engagement.

Blake said he belongs to the sub-committee of inclusion and awareness.

“We try to include everybody as much as possible on campus, and participate in some aspects in [one way or] another,” Blake said.

According to Blake, it is important for students to be involved with the committees, and all are welcome.

“[There’s an] invitation for everybody to get involved and everybody to bring their ideas to the table,” he said. “All of our committees really need students’ involvement on [them].”

Blake said there are a number of different programs being sponsored by different committees to help our cultural community be more involved with diversity and diversity programs.

He emphasized three words from Thompson’s presentation; retention, drives and admission.

“We have to be very much more actively involved in terms of trying to promote retention,” Blake said. “Working with our student population to help them to be successful on campus and not providing a barrier to them in terms of success.”

Ernie Barkett, the vice-president of Student Government Association, was one of the participants at the workshop.

He said the workshop taught him about how to promote and facilitate a diverse community at YSU.

“In order to truly help diversify the campus community and uplift those from underserved areas, it will take a commitment from both Youngstown State and the surrounding community,” he said.

“Teamwork between the community and the university is key to helping the valley in the future.”