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McMillian: Inclusive climates don’t just happen

By Jake Mcmillian
On February 23, 2011

As believers in the mission of a liberal arts education, it is important for members of our university community to consciously create an environment of inclusion by actively fighting hate and discrimination on our campus.

Indeed, the world around us is moving forward, and as an institution whose goal is to create the game-changers of the future, we can't afford to be left behind.

Inclusive climates don't just happen, but rather are influenced by the culture that has been established by those who wield influence in an organization. Students experience inclusive classroom environments when instructors purposefully establish rules of appropriate conduct and strictly prohibit all forms of bigotry.

If students learn nothing else in their time here, they must know that all opinions and lifestyles are valid, regardless of how far the deviate from the majority.

Inclusive teams exist only when coaches explicitly remind their athletes that players cannot function cohesively when some members are excluded. Coaches are responsible for using their sport to help shape the attitudes and behaviors of their players.

And although "locker room talk" will remain a breeding ground for hostility of all kinds, coaches must instill in athletes the core values of being a true Champion of Character.

Finally, inclusive organizations cannot prevail when some members are not allowed to exist openly and don't have access to all the rights and privileges of the majority population.

To create an inclusive climate on the grander University level, our leaders must take responsibility for establishing a culture that values every person involved, that outwardly defends each of its members, that validates and affirms the myriad of lifestyles that are represented, and that awards equally all the benefits of being a participant of the institution.

Even if choosing to do so is difficult or expensive, and even if it makes some people uncomfortable, taking the steps to ensure that all members of the university are treated with fairness and dignity affirms Ottawa's mission as a liberal arts institution, reflects our values as a school founded in the image of Christ, and keeps us in step with the surrounding social and political environment that has already realized that all viewpoints have worth

And if we have the audacity to accept people for who they are, to let them thrive in an environment that is welcoming and affirming, to be protective and supportive in the face of those who prefer complacency, I can assure that the sky will not fall. The world will not end. Hell will not freeze over.

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