Office for Diversity and Inclusion reflects on Social Identity Awareness Activity

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Jonelle Reynolds, director of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, discussed the Social Identity Awareness Activity held last week and the purpose it will serve for the University of Connecticut in the future. 

Jonelle Reynolds, director of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, discussed the Social Identity Awareness Activity held last week and the purpose it will serve for the University of Connecticut in the future. Photo courtesy of the UConn Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

Reynolds said the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, the Department of Residential Life and the Department of Student Activities had several goals in mind when designing the activity. In particular, they wanted to have students reflect on their social identities and the roles they play in daily life. 

“The goal was to help students think about which facets of their identity were most important to them, which they do via the pie-chart activity,” Reynolds said. “We also scaffolded the activity using resources such as novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s popular Ted Talk ‘The danger of a single story’ to give participants a broader context of racial identity, stereotypes, intercultural interactions to pull from in their discussions.” 

This event, Reynolds said, was open to any undergraduate student interested in reflecting upon their identities and experiences. Additionally, they hoped that this event would help students build upon their understanding of interactions with people from different backgrounds. 

“One of the main learning goals is awareness of one’s own identity and how people have different identities at large. This being the starting point, we want participants to reflect on how their identities have shaped or potentially can shape their experiences at UConn and how they relate to people from different identity backgrounds,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said that the event faced an issue with participation due to the short time between advertising and the actual event. Despite this, she said that they received useful feedback from students on ways to improve the event and participation. 

“Unfortunately, we did not schedule enough time between advertising and the sessions to have a full turnout,” Reynolds said. “Although the numbers were small, it allowed us to get feedback from the community, including students, on the messaging and ways to increase involvement overall.” 

The Social Identity Awareness Activity will continue to be offered at UConn by request, Reynolds said. It will be offered to FYE courses and will be an option for other student organizations and departments to use. 

“Upon reflection and discussions with students and staff, we decided that a more effective model 

would be to offer this activity by request. For example, we will now be an option for FYE instructors to include over the course of the semester. We plan to engage other areas like athletics, Greek life, student organizations and departments,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds wanted to express thanks to the volunteers who gave their time to the event. 

“I am proud of the many facilitators who volunteered their time to lead these activities,” Reynolds said. “Some of the trained facilitators outside of our unit included Dr. Lejuez, Amy Crim and Irvine Peck’s-Agaya.” 

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