By Katy Brown, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Social class is often an invisible element of diversity, but in higher education it plays a significant part in the experience and identity of students, staff and faculty.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Diversity Council presented a symposium on April 28 to bring awareness to the important and complex role of class.
The council, led by Communication Professor and Associate Dean Brenda J. Allen, organized a series of activities to inspire conversation and deeper reflection of how social class operates within education.
A fully interactive event for the students, faculty and staff, the symposium included a privilege exercise, videos about social class, a PowerPoint theater, an informational gallery of posters and a dialogue corner for discussion about diversity topics. Resource tables were also available to give attendees access to more information and support.
“Members of the diversity council were pleased with the strong turnout and positive response,” says Allen of the event. “We seem to have accomplished our goal of raising consciousness about complex class issues in higher education in general, and at CU Denver.”
One of the goals in the CLAS Strategic Plan 2008-2020 is to “enhance diversity across the college and foster a culture of inclusion.” The Class Matters event did just that: it brought together students, faculty and staff of varying backgrounds and experiences to discuss how class provides a framework and identity from which they operate and perceive their world.
Blake Carlson, CLAS alum and Dean’s Office assistant, says, “[It] really opened my eyes to the social inequalities that exist in modern-day America. After participating, I slowly began to realize all the privileges which I am fortunate enough to possess; often taking each for granted. Ultimately, this experience was an excellent portrayal of all the shortcomings and achievements in working towards a civilized society.”
Generous donations of canned food by attendees were made to the CU Denver Food Pantry for students located in the Tivoli.