Raising Flags and Awareness on Campus
A new art installation in Pioch Hall highlights recent efforts to create a welcoming and inclusive environment on campus. The project consists of a series of flag-inspired panels representing inclusion, patriotism, and compassion in the context of the many intersectional communities at Fisher. This creative undertaking is just one result of ongoing interdepartmental diversity and inclusion work at the College.
Dr. Melissa Goodwin, associate professor and chair of the Psychology Department, and Yantee Slobert, director of multicultural affairs at Fisher, have worked together for years, but only really got to know one another through mutual participation in a local racial equity conference.
When Slobert discovered the work being done in the Psychology Department, he was thrilled and wanted to be a part of the flag project. “We’re working really hard to break down silos at Fisher and work collaboratively to make sure that everyone's working towards the same goal of inclusivity.” Slobert, along with psychology faculty, contributed to the project which was constructed by local wood artist Jeff Rice.
Two years ago, faculty within the Psychology Department created a diversity statement to clarify and articulate their commitment to inclusivity. “We wanted to let our students know we support their mental health and as a department are committed to supporting them as individuals, inclusive of their identities relating to race, gender, sexuality, and ability,” shared Goodwin. Today, the statement is posted near the psychology faculty offices and featured in the department’s course materials.
Both Goodwin and Slobert have been a part of different efforts on campus working towards greater equity and inclusion at the College. Slobert served on the Presidential Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which was convened last summer and is working on drafting a diversity statement for the College. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the Board of Trustees are collaborating on the document, which will be formally announced later this spring.
Goodwin shares the aspirational goal within the Psychology Department is to embrace not just diversity, but anti-racist perspectives at the individual, group, and systems level. She cites the work of Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist” as an influence. Kendi delivered the 2018 Lobene Lecture in the Humanities at Fisher on the topic that would later be published in his best-selling book. He has been described as “a visionary in the enduring struggle for racial justice” for his efforts to transform the way Americans think, talk, and act about race and racism. Goodwin and Slobert hope the new project sparks conversations, awareness, and education related to racial equity.
To experience the installation first-hand, visit the Psychology Department located on the first floor of Pioch Hall.