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October 2019 Minutes

Diversity & Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC) Meeting Minutes

October 8, 2019

Chambers Building 221

Chair: SeriaShia Chatters

2:00pm – 3:30 pm


Attendees: Seria Chatters, Rhea Banerjee, Christine Andrus, John Holst, Maria Vetter, Misty Woods, Shannon Telenko, Carlos Zalaquett, Lisa Hopkins, Michelle Knotts, Hollie Kulago, Bonnie Richardson, Efrain Marimón, Christine McDonald, Amity Maines, Will, Betsy Campbell, Jonte’ Taylor (JT), Peggy Fitzgerald, Sarah Josco, Carmen Vanderhoof


Welcome and Opening Remarks


Old Business:

  1. Attendees introduced themselves at the beginning of the meeting.
  2. Reviewed and approved the minutes from September 2019
    1. Change was suggested by John in agenda item 2 where “Part 2 will be a multilingual cultural event” was changed to “Part 2 will be a multilingual educational event.” A motion to approve this change was passed.



New Business:

1)  General

1. Seria discussed the DCEC Donuts and Coffee social event - an annual social event where DCEC members meet members of the college (staff, faculty, students). Seria mentioned that we would need DCEC members present at the event to talk about DCEC to attendees. The event was in the Chambers Building Atrium last year on Halloween, and Seria said the event could be held on the same day this year. The date of the event was therefore decided to be on 10/31 between 8:30am-10:15am.          

Carlos highlighted the importance of using the information on the website to talk about DCEC with individuals who attended the event. Carlos said this would also be a good reminder to DCEC members about the information, including the DCEC mission.

2. Rhea summarized the results from the survey sent out earlier in the month to DCEC members on opinions for potential staple DCEC events. The events that received the highest ratings were Diversity in Education Conference and Taking Steps Toward Facilitating Difficult Conversations.

a)  JT spoke about the Conference being set up for January 25th. He reported being in conversation with the Dean on changing the format for this year’s conference and expanding it. A keynote speaker is being invited for this year – a professor from Lock Haven – who was a PSU graduate student in Special Education. As of right now, the format is for two topics at a time in classrooms. However, feedback received on this was related to those attendees who would want to attend multiple sessions but were limited because of the sessions occurring at the same time.

b)  There was discussion around the date being too close to MLK – Efrain and Michelle spoke about it being confusing for students and being hard to reach students. Seria said that the MLK banquet would be occurring during the week, so January 25th (a Saturday) would be okay.

c)  JT asked for suggestions for topics or a theme for the conference, since the call for proposals would go out later this month. Efrain suggested Equity practices in restorative circles. Seria said that this training was happening across districts right now. Michelle raised the issue of feedback she had heard from students about previous conferences being helpful but feeling like they were being “talked at.” Michelle suggested having a workshop or panel – more interactive sessions. JT said that since he was planning the whole conference himself, he would want it to be either all workshops or all panels – not both together.

d)  Seria asked if DCEC would need to identify if anyone could help with looking through proposals. JT said this would help for workshops, because those would have to be of high quality.

3. Seria discussed that the conference would be the first Spring event, and the event planned by John and Maria would be at the end of March. We would, however, need an event for the Fall and based on the survey results, this could potentially be the Difficult Conversations event. Seria said this year the event would need more focus – what difficult conversations are we talking about together?

a)       Bonnie suggested the topic of focus be mental health. PSU has been focusing on it. Bonnie said that people were embarrassed talking about mental health, and therefore using this as the focus could help. Seria asked for suggestions on how to plan this.

b)       Hollie suggested a restorative talking circle, which would promote respect in listening. She suggested the talking circle could be the ‘inner’ circle while the audience would be on the outside (a fish bowl technique), knowing that the circle is a safe space. Maria asked if there could be subthemes – other issues such as mental health for immigrants, children of family separation. Bonnie suggested that there should be someone on hand to offer support if people are triggered. Will discussed bringing in someone from the army to talk about issues in the military, especially suicide.

c)       Seria suggested that the event could involve smaller circles instead of one large circle. People attending would have the availability to switch between groups and attend multiple groups as a result. Seria also suggested that students in mental health would stand by as support (for those who would be triggered).

d)       Efrain discussed how even in small circles, there could be a tendency for the attendees to be “talked at.” He suggested the focus be on learning to facilitate difficult conversation rather than just have someone talk to the group. Efrain suggested making use of role play, case studies, and discussion. Seria said people who have knowledge in mental health conversations could come up with case studies and could have the smaller groups work through the difference cases/scenarios. Bonnie suggested reaching out to Shaver’s Creek and have facilitators from there – they have experience facilitating difficult conversation before and have been very engaging in how they facilitate groups.

e)       Seria asked if anyone would want to lead this initiative with her – Rhea offered to co-lead. Bonnie and Efrain offered to help as well.

4. Seria reported that Brenda Martinez continues to facilitate the budget this year even though she is not in DCEC.

5. Seria spoke about needing to put the information about the DCEC scholarship out as soon as possible, advertising that any student can apply and use it. Seria asked for creative ways to advertise this. John suggested using the listserv; JT suggested making use of the monitors in the department to put the information out. Sarah (an Education student council member – the outreach chair) said that she could help post an advertisement for this. Maria suggested advertising the scholarship on the Facebook page so that it could be shared.


2)  Staff Subcommittee


3)  Undergraduate subcommittee


4)  Faculty and GA subcommittee



The Meeting adjourned at 3:30 pm.



Next meeting: November 12, 2019 Tuesday, 2:00-4:00 pm, Chambers 221