The Westfield Voice

The Student News Site of Westfield State University

The Westfield Voice

The Westfield Voice

Westfield State University Supports Diversity

A diverse group of hands in a stack.

Westfield State University students and faculty held an event called “Voices of Resilience” on September 27th to promote diversity and inclusivity. 

This event was split into two parts. The first part was a lecture at the Scanlon Banquet Hall and the second part was an afterparty which took place in the Arno Maris Gallery.

Westfield held this event because exclusion and discrimination has become a national issue, and the university aims to solve this problem by promoting and raising awareness of inclusivity and diversity. 

Several speakers spoke at this event including, Prof. Janine Fondon, an adjunct professor at Westfield State, and Rhonda Anderson, the Western Massachusetts Commissioner on Indian Affairs. These speakers and many others spoke at this event to advocate for why diversity and inclusivity are essential for a safe and productive work environment. 

“Throughout my whole life and every path that you have throughout your journey addresses this inclusivity. Every step is about creating an inclusive world to live in,” said Fondon in an interview before the event. 

Many of the audience members were moved by the words of the speakers. “I would say that the speakers were impassioned and emotionally charged. Everyone spoke from their heart. The audience was captivated and hung on to their every word,” said Westfield State University student Sean Clancy. 

Clancy further added: “Rhonda Anderson choked up a few times, though she didn’t cry, when she was talking about the hardships that affected herself, her family, and her people.

“In particular, she described how her daughter and her class were told in elementary school that indigenous people ate human meat off the bone. One night she invited a classmate to dinner at her house. The classmate said that her family couldn’t have been ‘Indians’ because they had chicken for dinner, not human meat,” Clancy said.

“Each of us can be values practitioners by being clear on what we stand for, by acknowledging the lived values of our company/organization/institution, and by examining the difference in those two,” said Ben Boyd, an official from Peloton and a speaker at the event. 

“When the gulf between your personal values and those of your employer is too great, you have the opportunity to push your employer to do better or to determine that you need to move to an organization that offers a better values-fit for you,” Boyd said.

After the main event ended, everyone headed towards the afterparty in Arno Maris Gallery where food and drinks were being offered. The speakers and audience members socialized with each other while discussing the pictures hung on the walls which had text and images that served to give additional context to the speeches spoken earlier that day.

While a follow-up event has not been officially announced, Westfield State University seems likely to host further events that continue to raise awareness of America’s need for diversity and inclusivity.

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