OC series advances conversation about campus diversity | Update

Update: Next discussion will be held 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. May 24 at Olympic College, with Ray Garrido.

UPDATE: The next “Campus Climate” discussion, featuring Ray Garrido from Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center, will be 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. May 24 at the Olympic College Bremerton campus. The discussion will focus on immigration policy and how it affects the campus community.

BREMERTON — Olympic College is revisiting its “Campus Climate” series this year discussing social issues that affect the college community.

The most recent installment was April 25, when Chuck Tanner visited the Bremerton campus and led a talk titled “White Nationalism or Justice for All?”

Tanner is an advisory board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education, a racial and social-justice think tank dedicated to defending democracy and human rights, according to an OC press release on the discussion.

Cheryl Nuñez, OC vice president for equity and inclusion, said the series “helps equip students, faculty and staff for the work of creating an inclusive working and living and learning environment in which everybody can succeed.”

“In the past, we’ve … talked about how to serve transgender members of our community and hosted folks from the Council on American-Islamic Relations,” Nuñez said.

“Chuck Tanner’s discussion about white nationalism was really part of that programming emphasis. What do we need to know to create a safe, welcoming and thriving campus community?”

The series is called “Campus Climate Discussions Series” because of the “campus climate” term coined by researchers, which refers “to the psychological and behavioral climate as comprised of feelings of welcomeness and belonging, perceptions of institutional commitment to diversity and the success of all students,” Nuñez said.

The next talk in the series, she said, will be about immigration policy and reform, and the implications for the local community. She expects it will be scheduled for the end of May, but nothing is yet finalized. The leader of that discussion will be Ray Garrido, legal services director for Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center.

“Immigration policy is changing so quickly, and folks here at the college have a lot of questions about the implications for people in our community,” Nuñez said.

Future installments are intended, but nothing is planned regarding dates or topics yet. Nuñez said they may even revisit discussions held in the past, since they’re still relevant topics today.

OC has held other equity- and inclusion-based events, including 2017’s Equity and Excellence series featuring speakers Angela Davis and Barbara Ransby. Nuñez said there will be future installments in that series of discussions as well.

“The diversity of the people who are here, apart from our policy and practices, is a domain in which we really seek to foster some of these positive outcomes that are correlated with workplace engagement and productivity and … learning and student success,” Nuñez said.

While the Equity and Excellence series is designed to invite community members into the discussion, Nuñez said the campus climate discussions are more informal, held on the Bremerton campus at different times to ensure as many people as possible, from students to faculty to staff, can participate. People from the OC Shelton and Poulsbo campuses are also able to participate via teleconferencing.

“One of the things I think could be emphasized [is that] in order to create a thriving college community, there is so much to know about who we are and what factors influence our success,” Nuñez said. “It’s about more than just something that’s going to happen in the classroom. It’s really about being attentive to the fact that there are so many different climates depending on who you are because we are such a diverse community.”

To learn more, visit www.olympic.edu and search for “Equity and Inclusion.”

— Michelle Beahm is the online editor for the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.