Required course on diversity, equity, inclusion said to be better than last year’s

Baylor promotes a diverse campus with its new required training course. Brittany Tankersley | Photographer

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

The new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion course was posted Thursday on Canvas and is required to be completed before students can register for classes. The course includes videos, text and quizzes to check progress.

The Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office said in an email that the course should take around 40 minutes to complete.

“Baylor University has made an institutional commitment to require annual diversity education training for all students, faculty and staff,” the email said. “You will be enrolled in ‘Courageous Conversations: Hearing Every Voice.’”

Sugar Land senior Nicole Ma said she was impressed with the course and appreciated that Baylor created its own course instead of taking a program from an outside source.

“I think it was really great in terms of it being more interpersonal and being more specific to our university and especially hearing from faculty and staff,” Ma said.

Ma said the course acknowledged that this is just a step in the right direction and that learning more about diversity, equity and inclusion is a lifelong journey. She also said the term “different” is usually negative, but the course encouraged people to see beauty in a variety of characteristics.

“I think it’s not about assimilation or better fitting into Western roles but talks more about … that we recognize … the beauty of our people and our backgrounds and our cultures,” Ma said. “Through even these aspects, it’s better able to understand the gospel through a multitude of lenses, not only limited to someone’s own experiences and comfort but also better respect and honor other people’s backgrounds.”

Ma said she liked the course much better than the required diversity education video from fall 2020 — Loving Our Neighbors — because the video made it too easy for students, faculty and staff to press play and ignore.

“I’m just hoping that professors, students, staff and faculty feel more urged and feel the call to take a chance,” Ma said. “If it’s uncomfortable, chances are this is the way that God is calling us toward the truth of what we may have been missing in the past and tell us a little bit more of a fuller picture of our history and roots.”

Aurora, Colo., senior Sam Onilenla said that the course was informative and that the format was engaging.

“I think the transition from the video to this interactive process was definitely successful,” Onilenla said. “Because now, not only do you have videos — because they did have videos of different staff and faculty on some pages — they also just had definitions of stuff and how to be better and questions to think about. It really takes 30 to 35 minutes to go through 12 lessons.”

Onilenla said the course is great progress, but he would like to see Baylor have discussions with more students of color besides the few who are called upon most often.

“Next steps would be just finding ways to make people more comfortable on campus … and allowing more dialogue between the people who can make the changes and not just the token people,” Onilenla said. “Allowing more diversity to the table allows everyone to have a voice in the room.”

Ma said students who are uncomfortable with the course should lean into that feeling and go into the course with an open mind.

“I think the significance of the course is continuing to just engage with the people around you and understand a little better,” Ma said. “So if you’re trying to avoid it, I would encourage people to do a little bit of self-reflection. When you’re interacting with people, you want to be kind. You want to be intentional with them. You want to show them love.”