Diversity in leadership workshop appeals to students

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Programs in the Department of African and African American Studies, one of the ethnic studies departments that had its budget cut Tuesday, help students expand their potential job opportunities, said a program coordinator for the department Wednesday.

Program coordinator Malik Crowder spoke at a workshop with 23 people about the role of diversity in leadership as part of series hosted by the Leadership and Ethics Institute. He led several exercises, including one in which people moved to different sides of the room to indicate their positions on issues such as guns on campus and a discussion about the use of slang words such as “ghetto” used in a derogatory way.

At the workshop, Crowder said his department appeals to students of many ethnicities.

“White students love our major because they think they’re more competitive by having this understanding, this niche of underserved communities or traditionally marginalized communities,” he said.

Crowder said he has worked with students from diverse backgrounds.

“It’s important for you as leaders to understand that not everyone can go to spring break, skiing at spring break at Denver or Aspen,” he said.

Crowder said the use of derogatory slang causes people to feel unwelcome at the University.

“People feel unprotected and just offended and can just leave the University, move out of a residence hall, leave a class, that kind of thing,” he said.

Kayla Ford, coordinator of leadership development for the Leadership and Ethics Institute, said the workshop helped extend the focus of the program beyond individual development.

“In order to be a leader, you have to work with and for others,” she said. “You have to be understanding of other people’s points of views. You have to listen to others, be willing to compromise with others.”

Corporate communications senior Diane Nguyen, a leadership development and training co-chair for the institute, said ethnic studies courses are important for helping students understand different cultures.

“Sometimes we grow up in these communities, and we’re used to meeting only certain people and then we get into UT, and it’s, ‘Oh, my gosh, this big melting pot of people,’” she said.


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