Real Talk Listening Sessions: Executive Review
In October 2020, under the leadership of Dr. Yoli Alovor, the Office of Diversity and Belonging took the first step of transformational change in the area of diversity and belonging.
To accomplish this goal, the Office aimed to explore factors contributing to diversity and belonging, including students' relationships with peers, faculty, and staff. This allowed them to hear ideas on what factors promote a strong sense of belonging and areas that need improvement.
This report is intended to serve as insight into discussions held with students, staff, and faculty. Individual and focus groups conducted over three weeks included representation from all departments across campus.
The panels were comprised of 17 students, 25 staff, and 13 faculty members. Each participant engaged in a 1-panel session which resulted in 20 hours of discussions. A specific interview guide of structured questions was used for these discussions. The key to successfully obtaining genuine and authentic feedback from the participants was that the panels were conducted in a safe space.
Additionally, the panels were intended to be listening sessions in which Dr. Alovor could take note of participants' lived experiences without judgment or immediate feedback. Dr. Alovor and two moderators attended each panel session to listen and debrief on the feedback given by the students, faculty, and staff. One moderator served as a facilitator of the questions and the other as an ethnographer. All three leaders created a structured debriefing sheet to maintain a log of thoughts and observations throughout the course of the panel discussion.