‘Building a Foundation for Inclusion at CWI’ Event Sees Success

Published: February 3, 2023

During College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) in-service week, the College’s Inclusive Excellence Committee hosted the Building a Foundation for Inclusion at CWI training which saw about 80 faculty and staff attend in-person or via Zoom.

The event featured a diverse student panel who shared stories of their experiences navigating the College as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, being a neurodivergent student, having hidden struggles with mental health, and being a refugee student. Students spoke honestly about struggles they face with finding the right resource or person to connect to on campus when they have a problem in class or personally.

Students on the panel shared the types of negative impacts they commonly face, and how certain phrases or actions can make them feel excluded to what is going on around them. One point brought up was how a small action, such as reaching out to students when they miss a few classes or are struggling in a course, can go a long way to help them feel like they belong.

Many faculty and staff members present said it opened their eyes to hear about some of these students' circumstances.

“This was a lovely way to kick off course prep for the semester,” said one CWI employee. “I feel equally validated that I'm doing a lot of things right according to these students and challenged my need to do certain things more often.”

“I appreciated the wide range of perspectives and experiences the students offered and their honesty in sharing their experiences in higher education,” said another employee.

After the panel, employees in attendance filled out a reflection form to give to the College’s Inclusive Excellence Committee. Each submitted form stated this event was valuable and they would like to attend similar events in the future. They also wrote key takeaways and highlights, where many employees shared their appreciation for the students’ vulnerability.

“Such good feedback for all of us,” said one employee. “Thanks to the panel — that takes bravery.”

For those with questions or in need of more information on CWI’s Inclusive Excellence Committee, contact inclusiveexcellence@cwi.edu.

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