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  • 22

    Mount Holyoke Offers New Pre-Orientation For White Students
    Race; Posted on: 2009-04-19 15:34:45 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    More passive aggressive non-white supremacy on yet another campus

    This fall, Mount Holyoke College will be offering a new pre-orientation opportunity, called “Promoting Intercultural Dialogue and Creating Inclusion,” for white, domestic first-year students.

    The program is an optional subset of Mount Holyoke’s pre-orientation for all incoming students, designed to give students the skills necessary for communication and leadership.

    In previous years, international students were required to go to a specific pre-orientation program while students of color were given an optional pre-orientation. Now, white students will also have the same opportunity.

    The voluntary pre-orientation will cover the traditional issues of race and social justice. It will also help foster understanding of other races through workshops and dialogues on an individual basis, and through the program’s collaboration with the other pre-orientation groups, which include students of color and international students.

    “I think the new pre-orientation program could be a really good thing,” said Mount Holyoke freshman Emily McGranachan. “Last year before coming to Mount Holyoke, I remember thinking, I wish there was some program that I qualified to join. A program discussing racism and social justice is important and from my experiences, often eye-opening.”

    According to Elizabeth Braun, dean of students at Mount Holyoke, the program is intended to address self-understanding and the complexity of other ethnic groups.

    “[The program] will get into traditional issues on an individual basis and also involve more cross-cultural dialogue to become aware of the complexity of racial ethnicity,” said Braun.

    What sparked the idea for such a program was “Intergroup Dialogues,” which are discussions held on the Mount Holyoke campus throughout the academic year on the subject of race, inspired in part by the University of Massachusetts’ Intergroup Dialogue program.

    “The program will allow for a reflection of identity,” said Tanya Williams, dean of students and coordinator of multicultural affairs at Mount Holyoke. “And when coming to a diverse college campus, it will hopefully increase [students’] comfort and understanding of friends, faculty and colleagues.”  

    There has been a lot of positive feedback about the program.

    “By learning about one’s identity and the cultures of outside groups, one will become a better individual, and this will make for a richer community,” said Braun.

    The program is still in the process of development, and a board of students will be created to look over and evaluate the pre-orientation this fall.

    “I'm sure there are a lot of things the program board will be working out, but if executed properly, this could be a great addition to MHC orientation and a way to make white domestic students feel equally valued,” said McGranachan.

    Dinah Gorelik can be reached at dgorelik@student.umass.edu.

    News Source: daily collegian


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