Diversity and Multicultural Programs (State-Operated)
Tolerance Week, Fashion Institute of Technology
Create a week long series of programs to foster awareness and understanding of tolerance; help students examine their own biases and help overcome them; and create a campus environment that stands against injustice and celebrates the diversity of the FIT community. The need for this program arose from interest in addressing the issue of hate crimes and injustices in a more positive way.
The program is designed to be a collaborative approach led by student leaders which includes multiple segments of the campus population: classroom students, faculty, student services, student life, administration, and student government. The Department of Student Life works with the various groups to create a week long series of events for the campus community.
The first aspect of the program design is done in collaboration with Academic Affairs. An advertising competition is held among three class sections of the Advertising Workshop course (AD356). The winning advertising campaign is launched and includes all publicity and marketing for the week.
At least one event is scheduled during each day of the week; some days feature multiple programs that are designed to appeal to a variety of tastes. Two prominent programs are held during Common Hour on Tuesday and Thursday when classes are not in session. A special art exhibit is held all week long featuring all the artwork created by the Advertising Workshop competition for Tolerance Week. All events for the week are free and open to the entire campus community.
In 2007, Monday’s program was a Wall of Tolerance coordinated by Student Ambassadors. Campus community members were asked to reflect on the meaning of tolerance, sign a declaration of tolerance and add their own special message to our campus wall inside the cafeteria. Hundreds of students signed declarations of tolerance promising to examine their own biases and overcome them, set a positive example for others, and speak out against hate and injustice. The wall remained on display for the week.
Tuesday’s program was a powerful one woman show by Maxine Maxwell called “Echoes of the Past.” Ms. Maxwell’s show reflected the history of African American women from slavery to today. This show was selected and coordinated by the student government’s Programming Board.
Wednesday’s program was an evening reception featuring the artwork on display from the Advertising Workshop Tolerance Week competition. This program was sponsored by Student Life and special invitations were sent to the students whose artwork was featured. Live music and snacks were provided.
Thursday’s program was a Town Hall Meeting “Diversity at FIT” sponsored by the Dean of Art and Design and created in collaboration with student government leaders. The town hall began with students presenting information about genocide. A slide show of images from the Holocaust, Darfur, and other genocides was presented along with information. An open discussion followed, including ways students can learn more and take action (through our United Nations Student Alliance Club). Student leaders then presented several skits about tolerance. For example, in one skit students presented a scenario where a student in a wheel chair could not get on the elevator because it was full of students who would not clear enough space. Each student skit focused on a different aspect of tolerance and included topics such as religion, ethnicity, race, gender, body size, physical abilities, and sexual orientation. The meeting ended with an open discussion among students about diversity at FIT lead by student leaders.
Thursday evening a special program was held for campus clubs. Clubs were encouraged to get together and celebrate their individuality through the creation of artwork inspired by music. Students created a large mural inspired by different types of music.
The final program for the week was on Saturday with a limited number of free tickets to see a current blockbuster movie and participate in a discussion. Student leaders lead a discussion about tolerance and diversity following the movie.