Race Matters

Voices Matter: Why you need to talk about race

University College Launches Virtual Workshop on Race and Equity;
Creates OTHC Scholarship for Part-Time Students

Many people find talking about race uncomfortable, but the need for having those difficult conversations has been heightened during the last year by events and protests on campus and across the nation.

University College is hoping to help facilitate those conversations through a new non-credit class offered to the general public through its Orange Academy, a program that offers non-credit online classes to alumni and friends. Voices Matter: Why You Need to Talk About Race is a six-week interactive virtual workshop offered on Thursday evenings beginning March 15. Proceeds generated from course tuition beyond faculty salaries will fund a scholarship for underrepresented students enrolled at University College.

The virtual workshop was inspired by the SEM 100 course required of all incoming and transfer students at Syracuse University. The course was redesigned this year by associate professor of education, Jeffrey Mangram in an effort to push students outside of their comfort zone to discuss topics such as identity, power, privilege and history with a goal of building a meaningful, inclusive Syracuse University community.
Andrea Willis, director at University College, has served as a SEM 100 facilitator since its inception. She was so impressed with the curriculum and training for the new course provided by Mangram and Candice Haste-Jackson, associate teaching professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, that she knew a wider audience would find it valuable. Willis proposed repackaging the course on a smaller scale as an addition to UC’s Orange Academy.

“Given the events of the past year, I think there are a lot of people who might be interested in learning more about race, equity and inclusion but don’t have the resources or don’t know where to start,” says Willis. The workshop is designed to give participants context on the historical, political, economic and social forces that shape individual perspectives and provide a framework on U.S. and global racial issues that will stimulate dialogue and empower individual action.

Mangram has a long history of working with University College—he gave the school’s 2020 commencement address—and was enthusiastic about adapting the SEM 100 material for the Orange Academy. He and Haste-Jackson will lead the six 90-minute interactive sessions, which will be augmented by additional resources provided to those enrolled.

“We hope students will come to understand the power of culture and socialization as well as gain a better understanding of the multiple identities they will have to grapple with because of culture and socialization,” says Mangram. “Additionally, students will understand the connections of bias, implicit bias, stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination as well as the damaging effects of microaggressions. We hope students will better be able to engage with each other.”

Using proceeds from the course to fund a scholarship is a first, according to Jeff Comanici, executive director of advancement and external affairs for University College. “Given the subject matter, we thought it appropriate to support the University’s mission to promote a diverse student body,” he says.

The scholarship will be created as part of the Our Time Has Come (OTHC) Scholarship Fund and will be the first to support part-time students. The payout from the Fund will be used each year to provide scholarship and financial assistance to undergraduate students enrolled in University College with preference to those studying for a degree online. Additional consideration will be given to those from underrepresented populations. Comanici says University College is also accepting direct gifts to support the new OTHC scholarship for part-time students. “If anyone would like to contribute directly to this initiative, with or without taking the course, we are happy to accept their support,” he says.

Enrollment for Voices Matter is open now with discounted tuition for alumni and a limited number of discounted spots for Syracuse University faculty and staff members. To make a gift in support of the OTHC Scholarship for part-time University College students, please contact Jeff Comanici at jjcomani@uc.syr.edu.
“We hope this workshop encourages conversation, and in the process, helps support equity and inclusion at Syracuse University,” says Willis.

Full image text: Voices Matter: Why you need to talk about race. Virtual 6-week workshop. Mar. 15-Apr. 23, 2021. Thursdays, 6:30-8:00 PM EST. Syracuse University. Enroll today. Starts Mar. 15