A huge game of rock-paper-scissors brought first-year students at Moore together in a diversity awareness training program, part of the College’s Visual Thinking class.
About 80 students participated in the program designed by Justin Brown, CEO and president of Diversity Awareness Program, or D.A.P.
“I think we need to set up students to be successful in the global market as well as to be global citizens, because these are the individuals that will eventually go on to run big corporations and change the face of the country,” Brown said. “I think being able to grab students where they are cognitively now to help them grow and develop is important.”
Brown led them in role-playing activities that put a spotlight on prejudice, racism, sexism, perception differences in gender, and cultural awareness.
“We have to learn to unlearn, change your mode of thinking,” he told the students.
Brown says he’s traveled to more than 300 schools and done the presentation over 600 times, tailoring it to audiences including police departments, high schools, and institutions of higher education. He created D.A.P. in 2008 while he was a student at Slippery Rock University.
“Being able to say ok, here’s a room full of individuals who are different: different experiences, different social, economic places, genders, backgrounds, sexual orientation, and being able to pull them into activities and games and ice breakers and team builders and really show them that diversity is not so black and white, but that it has a gray area and that everybody has a voice and that everybody can belong,” he said.
“The one thing I learned today was to stop believing in stereotypes, and to stop judging people before even knowing who they are,” said Drashti Pandya, a Fashion Design major. “Some of the exercises got a bit controversial at the end, but it was pretty fun.”
“I learned what diversity is, because honestly, I didn’t really know what it meant, said Fine Arts major Asia Millin.
“I learned about different stereotypes that I didn’t know people had,” Jacqueline Levecque, a Photography & Digital Arts major.
“I learned not to block people out and to not put up a mask, because I do that a lot and I need to stop,” said Karyn Kittrell, a Fashion Design major.
Brown had the students create various groups – those who liked dogs and cats, those who were ‘church people’ and those who weren’t. He also made them pair off with someone they didn’t know and exchange phone numbers and make plans to have lunch together.
Drashti said the program helped her make new friends.
“I knew some of them because they were in my class, but we never interacted that much because we were busy working on our projects, but today was the first time I talked with them and the first time I knew their name,” Drashti said.
Matthew Point, Moore’s director of Residence Life and Housing, says the diversity awareness program is one of several the first-year students will experience. A recent event focused on bystander intervention and sexual assault.