Campus & Community

Community members challenged to question their implicit bias at Diversity Summit

At a morning session during DU’s 15th annual Diversity Summit today, Dian Squire, Maria Islas-Lopez and Jennifer-Grace Ewa presented a workshop titled “I’m not racist but . . .’: Exploring the Implicit Bias on DU’s campus.” All three presenters are postdoctoral fellows affiliated with the University’s Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (In)Equality (IRISE). “We’re going to be engaging into practical matters and trying to untangle this larger topic of implicit and explicit bias in the way that it manifests on campus, both in terms of opinions and also in terms of practices,” said Islas-Lopez.

During the opening presentation, Squire observed some of the ways in which racism still exists in society. “In a post-racial society, it’s not really appropriate or allowed anymore to be explicitly biased. A lot of these biases manifest themselves in new ways that we call ‘colorblind racism,’” he said. For example, Squire discussed the concept of naturalization, in which people might claim that cultural or racial groups self-segregate, rather than looking at the historical or sociological factors that lead to segregation.

Faculty, staff and student participants then divided into smaller groups to discuss the results of a survey on implicit bias given to 186 members of the DU community last week. Survey questions ranged from the respondent’s feelings on Affirmative Action to the racial makeup of DU students. The individual groups were given the chance to discuss the survey questions and answers, observing patterns and then sharing their comments with the larger audience.

Many of the participants concluded that there was a disparity between the answers given by respondents in the survey and the actions of students, staff and faculty.

“We wanted to see what people would say so that we could compare it to what actually happens on campus,” Ewa said. “We have 80 to 90 percent of people saying, ‘Everyone deserves education.’ That provides an interesting comparison between what we see on here and what happens on campus.”

The workshop ended with participants making suggestions for action plans to target the implicit biases seen in the DU community.


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