Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

Diversity and inclusion symposium emphasizes awareness of surroundings

Paying attention to surroundings was emphasized by Andres Tapia, a senior partner for Korn Ferry Leadership & Talent Consulting, during his keynote address at Central Michigan University’s Diversity and Inclusion Symposium on Wednesday in the Bovee University Center Rotunda.

The symposium highlighted trends of diversity and inclusion. It included Tapia’s keynote speech, breakout sessions and concluded with a lunch.

Tapia discussed his book, “The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity.” Tapia is also a part of the Worldwide Speakers Group and is a senior partner and global solutions leader for the Workforce Performance, Inclusion and Diversity Practice for Korn Ferry.

During Tapia’s speech, he said he wants minorities in higher positions and said someone’s sexual orientation should not conflict with their work life. He made audience members interact and tackled social norms to engage in conversations.

Southfield sophomore Gabrielle Patmon said she was a little intimidated by Tapia at first, but enjoyed what he had to say.

“I had never been to a symposium before but it sounded really interesting,” Patmon said. “I am happy that I decided to go because it was a good experience and I feel like I learned something.”

Patmon said she wants to start paying more attention to what is happening around her. She added Tapia helped her realize how she sometimes shuts out her surroundings.

“(Tapia) made me realize that unconsciously I put up walls around me to the outside world and I only focus on what is important in the moment,” she said.

Patmon said she enjoyed when Tapia had the audience pick a goal for their day, week and year. Her goal for the day is to talk to a stranger, goal for the week is to have a conversation with one of her professors and her goal for the year is to make at least six new friends by the end of the year.

“It may not seem like much but I think if everyone put their best foot forward, things could be a lot better,” Patmon said.

At the end of his speech, Tapia split the audience into two different groups to listen to others talk about diversity in their own way. One of the two options was “Dispelling Myths: Breaking Down Boundaries for Creating More Inclusive Environment.” Speakers included JoEllen Delucia, associate professor of English; Ulana Klymyshyn, emeritus in Inclusion and Diversity; and Katrina Piatek-Jimenez, professor of Mathematics Education.

“I did enjoy (Tapia) and what he had to say but I really liked (Delucia’s) activity during her presentation,” said Canton Township junior Breanna Warner, who attended the symposium for the first time. “She handed out pieces of paper with a chart on it. The directions were to fill it out how I saw myself. For example, I put that I am a heterosexual white female. Then we were instructed to rank what we care about personally.”

Warner said she enjoyed how the group leaders asked the audience how they felt about labelling themselves, and if anyone struggled with any of the options.

“I liked hearing their perspective compared to mine and how the same questions could have an impact on other people,” Warner said. “I am young and things aren’t very complicated for me. I could come out one day and my family would accept me but hearing about how other people don’t always have that privilege made me sad. I don’t think people should have to hide who they are.”

Another section titled “Inclusive Language in the Classroom & Workplace” included Sapphire Cureg, director of the Office of Diversity Education, and Wafa Hozien, assistant professor of Educational Leadership.

The was sponsored by athletics, the College of Science and Engineering, Human Resources, Enrollment & Student Services, the Office of Institutional Diversity and the Office of Diversity Education.