Thursday, August 21, 2003

About our mandatory diversity trainer 

We department chairs have now received a "personal invitation" to workshops on "diversity and power relationships" from a Dr. Terrell Jones from Penn State, whom we are all told has an "approach to the topic of diversity [that] is interesting, stimulating, and thoughtful." You don't say! Well, let's have a look at this fellow, shall we?
W. Terrell Jones is currently the Vice Provost for Educational Equity at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Jones earned his Masters and Doctoral degrees in Student Personnel Services from Penn State. He has presented workshops and speeches on cultural diversity, cultural/ethnic identity, racism reduction models and intercultural communications for the public and private sectors as well as for student and professional diversity focused conferences. He is the author of several articles on diversity in higher education and is a consultant for many institutions that are committed to cultural diversity and multicultural development.
For a guy trained in student personnel, he seems to have had a little problem with students. From a student newspaper at PSU last year.
During a meeting last week between the Senate Diversity Committee and Jones, Jones expressed doubt in the senate's ability to understand diversity because the senators present weren't diverse themselves.

"You can't talk about diversity since you're all white," he said.

This was the second time Jones publicly suggested that many non-minorities do not understand diversity issues. During a day of meetings with black state legislators and students in April 2001, Jones told two newspaper reporters that most white people are not good at dealing with racism.

The 2001 statement is available here and included this exchange.
In his interview with reporters, Jones said he was still upset by an October 2000 Collegian article in which a student was quoted making a racist remark against him. Jones was informed about the quote before it ran in the paper and declined an invitation to respond to it.

Jones told two newspaper reporters that most white people are not good at dealing with racism. Turning to the Collegian reporter, he said the reporter was untrustworthy.

"Please put that in your paper. I said, 'I don't trust you,' " Jones said. He turned away and said nothing more.

So Dr. Jones has a little history here. What will he say to us? We can get some idea from these notes from a speech he gave at Iowa (in Word .doc form -- here's the Google html version). He puts four parts to diversity: affirmative action, valuing differences, leveraging diversity and managing diversity. What I find telling is his description of the resistance to diversity.That is, those that oppose this model are in denial, fear, or are waxing nostalgic. I do not find these explanations "interesting, stimulating, and thoughtful." But then he probably won't trust me.