This is the prompt for my last discussion of the #engageMOOC online class: What does polarization currently look like in YOUR workplace, or campus, or community…online and off? What resources are you turning to in order to try to deal with it? Is there anything you are currently engaged with that you can share with us?
I was mostly interested in this course because the polarization at my campus has been so visible. In the last month there have been two hate crimes against Muslim students and it has created a lot of tension between our students and our administration. The students, especially Muslim students, have expressed their concerns of safety and their disappointment in response from the administration. This was publicly discussed during a town hall meeting after one of the incidents. The administration was very dismissive and defensive when students expressed their opinions. This is what bothers me; the lack of empathy, listening and understanding from the administration. When administration acts like this the students don’t feel heard and feel ignored. I feel this is what creates the tension and the increasing polarization at UWB. How I try and help build a bridge between students and administration I’ve talked to students like the Muslim Student Association, engaged with my departments’ Diversity Committee on how to listen to students needs while working with administration, worked with faculty who have talked to our administration to try and help each group come together and openly talk about the issues- create transparency. The Diversity Center at UWB also created a social campaign to let students tell their stories and help build community. The campaign was called “I Belong at UWB: Narratives of Identity, Hope and Community.” I really loved this response because it gave an opportunity for students to share their stories, identities and show the campus who goes here. I hope we can create an environment where students and administration can have open discussions and deeply listen to students concerns. Below is the poster for the campaign: