What is Inclusion?
You may have heard the phrase, “We have a commitment to diversity and inclusion” before and thought, “Hmm, I know what diversity is, but what is inclusion, and how do you achieve it?” In this context, inclusion refers to the feeling of being valued, respected, supported, and welcoming to a vast array of different populations and identities.
Why is it Important?
Picture this: you enter a room and there is a group of people sitting comfortably together, all talking and laughing with each other. They look up at you and stare as you enter the room, but make no effort to greet you. You may feel self-conscious, uncomfortable, and left out because every other person in the room looks like they are having really good conversations, meanwhile you are sitting alone in silence. You wonder to yourself: why isn’t anyone inviting me to talk? You may become hyper-aware of your surroundings and wonder if it has anything to do with how you look. You don’t feel very good in the space, and you desperately want to go somewhere else, a place where you feel welcome. You want to feel included.
There is a belief that people are their best selves when they are their authentic selves – that is, people are happiest, most productive, and feel that they have found a purpose and meaning within their communities when they are able to express themselves in the way that they feel is most representative to who they are. When people feel empowered by those around them, their feelings of self-worth and self-image are more positive. On an individual level, inclusion encourages others to feel valued for their unique experiences and qualities. On a larger scale, inclusion helps foster engagement and builds community where people are encouraged to be authentic, real, and to contribute their own experiences to enrich the conditions of the space itself.
How Can I Find Community?
There are many places here on our campus that are committed to diversity and inclusion, and attempt to create spaces that are inclusive and welcoming. Look for organizations and places that directly say that they are committed to creating inclusive spaces. Explore your options and find community within spaces that feel safe for you and your identities.
It’s also important to remember that anyone can contribute to an inclusive community by exploring deeper into what it means to be inclusive. Being committed to encouraging others (and yourself!) to live authentically, welcoming others into spaces that you are in, and seeing value in lived experiences and others’ identities can all contribute to inclusive spaces. Even individuals can make people feel welcome and included, which is a familiar feeling that we have all wanted at some point in our lives.
Upcoming Holidays & Observances
February 27 – April 8: Beginning of Great Lent – also known as “Clean Monday,” this refers to the period of preparation leading up to Holy Week and Pascha in the Orthodox Church.
March 1: St. David’s Day – the feast day of St. David,the patron saint of Wales.
March 2-20 (Sunset to Sunset): Nineteen-Day Fast – a time in the Bahá’í faith to reinvigorate the soul and bring one closer to God.
March 5: Orthodox Sunday – celebrated on the first Sunday of Great Lent. It is the celebration of the victory of the iconodules over the iconoclasts by the decision of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.