NCBI brings action-oriented approach to inclusion

Miguel Hernandez

Personal prejudices will not change unless you are willing to stare them in the face.

Florida State will soon give the campus and surrounding community the opportunity to do just that with the launch of a new affiliate of the National Coalition Building Institute. The new campus affiliate for this international nonprofit will facilitate workshops on prejudice reduction and inclusion to students, faculty and staff.

The workshops will include modules on recognizing misinformation of various groups, learning and rethinking personal behaviors derived from prejudice and discrimination, celebrating similarities and differences within social groups, and building positive relationships with others.

Michelle Douglas, co-director for the Florida State NCBI team, discussed the importance of introducing this program to the campus and community.

“As an institution of higher learning, we are always working towards improving and educating ourselves,” she said. “NCBI allows us to use this model so we make our campus more inviting, more accepting, and more engaged with the diverse student.”

While the university has various initiatives focused on bringing awareness of diversity and inclusion, NCBI is action-oriented, skill-building program. Participants will look into their personal prejudices that develop and exist within all facets of their life. These prejudices can include common controversial topics, such as racism and sexism, as well as those against social groups that are largely ignored in many programs looking to bring awareness.

Miguel Hernandez, an associate director at the Center for Leadership & Social Change, leads the NCBI team with Douglas.

“When you walk into the workshop you agree to be vulnerable enough to look into the mirror,” he said, “not the pocket mirror that you check to see if you have food in your teeth, the surrounding full length mirrors that capture the whole image.”

The Florida State program launched Thursday as part of the Dalton Institute on College Student Values. Hernandez, Douglas, and fellow NCBI members Laura Osteen and Renisha Gibbs, who serve as the director of the Center for Leadership & Social Change and assistant vice president for human resources, respectively, were the facilitators of the first workshop. Full workshops are set to begin in the late summer and early fall semesters.

NCBI will also serve as a crisis response team to create safe spaces for the campus community during times of widespread controversy. These spaces will allow for an open dialogue between community members about any controversy and its effects. A team of 30 FSU facilitators from various departments on campus have been training throughout the semester to prepare for these open dialogues and prejudice reduction workshops.

“We have people from student affairs; we have people from financial administration. We have faculty; we have administrators as well,” Douglas said.

This is all in the interest of creating a more understanding and inclusive community.

“NCBI leans on relationships,” Hernandez said. “We are working to recognize and reevaluate prejudices, as well as build strong relationships with others within and outside of our own social groups.”

 

—Talise Burton