Inclusivity — beyond diversity

“Inclusivity is different than diversity,” says Trinidy Jeter ’04, interim director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. “We have a respect for and a growing sense of knowledge and appreciation of others and ourselves. We look beyond our own identity to relate and sympathize with others.”

In the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, which she stepped into in August, Jeter relishes the opportunity to connect with students across a range of cultures. “I want to help build inclusivity into the fabric of campus life.”

Jeter also helps students learn how to be good advocates for themselves. This work is foundational for civic engagement.

“Students who ‘own’ self-advocacy also increase their capacity and likelihood to advocate for others,” says Jeter, who is creating a tool-kit for self-advocacy as well as inclusivity training.

Another goal is to build and affirm a culture of W(h)olistic Leadership — a leadership model based on an awareness of self within the context of the community. Jeter says we are better able to understand others’ experiences when we have a basis of profound self-knowledge.

A healthy community means we acknowledge, celebrate and advocate for inclusivity and diversity — all while maintaining a balanced sense of care for the individual and the community.

W(h)olistic Leadership, based in inclusivity, creates a healthy community. A healthy community means we acknowledge, celebrate and advocate for inclusivity and diversity — all while maintaining a balanced sense of care for the individual and the community.

“We can measure this by the number of community conversations, by peer-to-peer learning across differences, and by how we resolve issues,” says Jeter. “Are we creating a ‘win-lose’ culture, or a place where our language and behaviors reflect our care and compassion for one another? How do we elevate these conversations?”

This work engages the entire campus. Jeter is pushing the “it takes a village” envelope, with the aim of creating social experiences to connect people across different identities.

Jeter herself has deep roots in Denison’s multicultural community. In 2000, she arrived at The Hill as a first-gen student, having been raised by her grandparents in Sandusky, Ohio.

“I remember being dropped off for the Paving the Way orientation, which was then under the direction of Dr. Betty Lovelace,” she says. “I didn’t know what this experience would entail. Dr. Lovelace, Dr. Toni King, and Dr. Hamlet all became important points of contact for me during the next four years, and beyond.”

“I learned more about myself here. I was encouraged to live in my own truth, because of the people in this office,” she says. “I am carrying a torch forward.”

August 26, 2019