Locally, probably no other institution reflects the changing face of America better than Washtenaw Community College.
More than 1,000 students from over 100 foreign countries choose WCC as the catalyst for their futures, according to International Student Services. Furthermore, nearly one-third of WCC’s students are from minority groups, according to the WCC Institutional Research Department.
To showcase that remarkable diversity, WCC held its first-ever Diversity Day event.
The celebration took place on Sept. 23 on the first floor of the Student Center building. Attendees learned about various student clubs that support diversity at WCC and gathered information about services for women and international students.
Why dedicate an entire day to celebrating diversity? “We want students to celebrate all the ways in which they’re diverse,” said Rachel Barsch, coordinator of Student Activities. “We want WCC to be a safe place for students of all backgrounds to attend.”
Barsch also noted that the timing of Diversity Day couldn’t be better. On November 18, 2014, changes that were made to WCC’s non-discrimination policy and adopted by the Board of Trustees state: “Further, it is the policy of the College not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in the educational programs and related activities which it offers.”
Diversity Day is sponsored by the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion (SDI), which works to promote and celebrate the multiple dimensions of diversity that expand beyond race, including religion, ideas, beliefs, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and age.
“WCC is home to a grand diversity of students, faculty and staff,” said Arnett Chisholm, dean of SDI. “Our diversity is our strength. We have so much to learn from and teach each other — about our backgrounds, cultures, customs and ways of life.”
WCC Director of Government Relations Jason Morgan served as the event’s guest speaker. WCC History Faculty Member Thornton Perkins also gave remarks.
“Diversity in education truly allows for a deeper, multifaceted learning environment, where various ideologies and sentiments are shared, for the common goal of better understanding the global world in which we live,” said Devin Streur, WCC International Student Advisor.
Pleased with the turnout, Dean Chisholm hinted that Diversity Day will be even bigger next year. And for many students, including general studies major Mike Ebbert, the event was an opportunity to expand their horizons and learn more about their peers.
“Diversity helps to promote a better understanding of the world around us and the people living in it,” Ebbert said. “The more we can learn about each other, the better we can accept and understand each other and events like Diversity Day can definitely help with that.”
WCC President Rose B. Bellanca told the many students who attended that while the college is proud to celebrate Diversity Day, “we celebrate diversity every day at Washtenaw Community College.”
To learn more about the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion at WCC, visit diversity.wccnet.edu.