Center for Diversity and Inclusion speaks to best practices for clubs

| Managing Scene Editor

Outing Club gets new members to sign up at the Activities Fair. (Tim Mellman/Student Life)

With the Activities Fair comes an influx of new club members, and with new members comes tha age-old question: how do clubs make sure they are inclusive of everyone who wants to join? And perhaps even more important, how do clubs make sure that all members feel heard and seen? Over email, Dr. Aeryel Williams, the training and education specialist for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, speaks to how student groups can achieve these goals.

Student Life: What is the importance of having a diverse student body involved in clubs on campus?

Dr. Aeryel Williams: It is critically important to recognize that diversity is deeper and broader than race and gender. Every organization should seek members that will not only contribute their time and skills, but also their differences in perspectives and lived experiences. This will ensure an enriching and educational experience for each member.

SL: How should club leaders ensure that everyone, regardless of background, feels welcome in a club?

AW: There are three quick and easy ways to make sure folks feel included. One, think before you speak, an age old phrase, but still so true. We have to pause and be intentional about what we say, how we say it, who we say it to and in what context. Two, ask for ongoing feedback and implement it into the membership experience. And three, practice cultural humility, which means to engage in lifelong self-reflection and self-critique.

SL: When a club is exclusive (makes cuts, requires an application), how can they work to reduce bias in the admittance process?

AW: We all have biases and we cannot ignore them, because they impact our daily thought processes and interactions with others. I would suggest the folks in charge of making the decisions participate in one of the CDI’s Mitigating Implicit Bias and Microaggressions workshops. In addition to that, each person should consider and acknowledge their own biases, assess how they may or may not impact the process whether that be positive or negative and discuss them as a group before making any decisions about new members.

SL: How do you recommend a club recruits new members in an equitable way?

AW: 

  • Be kind, be open and be fair. 
  • Consider ways to increase the recruitment pool and avoid tokenism. 
  • Students should consider the complexities and intersections of identity and in what ways folks need access and opportunities…and then provide that to them. 

SL:  How can clubs make sure that all voices are heard in decision and policy processes?

AW: Depending on the size of the organization or the amount of folks included in the new member process this might be a daunting task. But as mentioned previously asking for feedback and implementing it is key. 

The new member process should be assessed on a regular basis as well as the constitution and bylaws of the organization. Student leaders should focus on creating policies that help members practice inclusion and hold each other accountable when it’s time to enforce the policies. 

SL:  How can a club request CDI training for members? Are there any clubs that cannot request training?

AW: Submit a request using this form:  https://students.wustl.edu/cdi-training-request-form/

 

 

 

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