Wesleyan University is awarding its second round of faculty-staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Grants, providing funds for three projects designed to advance the campus as an antiracist space through performing arts events and public safety training.
Primary grant recipients this round are Brian Granger, assistant professor of Performing Arts; Sean Bolender, director of Public Safety; and Angel Tyler, residential life coordinator.
Theatre as service
Granger’s grant will support his project, “Theatre-as-Service Connection Weekend.” It will involve a trip to historic Staunton, Virginia, to learn about the city’s historic African American business district and about foundational concepts in applied theatre. Then, students will apply their knowledge by assisting as tech crew for “What We Lost,” a work of outdoor, museum theatre to commemorate the African American business district and acknowledge its intentional dismantling. They also will attend a production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” at the historic Blackfriars Theatre.
“This trip is both a celebration of theatre’s possibilities and an application of theatre-as-service in working collaboratively with community members on an authentic and ongoing community problem,” said Granger, who joined the Ohio Wesleyan faculty in August. “Most importantly, this trip will serve as an initial exploration of how OWU students can bring these examples of DEI conversations, community-based work, and theatre skill sets back here to Delaware and more creatively into their lives as citizens.”
Mutual respect training
Bolender’s grant will support training for OWU Public Safety officers provided by Mutual Respect Consulting and facilitated by a certified diversity professional and a retired police lieutenant. The summer training seeks to engage the participants in dialogues and exercises that stress the importance of other perspectives and experiences, touching on topics that include unconscious bias, power hierarchies, and comprehending and working effectively with resistances.
“The primary objective of this project is to continue building trust and mutual respect between Public Safety officers and the community they serve,” Bolender said, “namely students, staff, faculty, and visitors representing the broad spectrum of identity groups at Ohio Wesleyan University.”
Recital with a diverse repertoire
Tyler’s grant will support an hour-long lecture and recital during fall semester that performs and discusses pieces by Black composers. She is a classically trained soprano who holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance (opera) from the State University of New York College at Oswego.
“This lecture-recital will provide a crash course into the importance of diversity in the classical repertoire and will give the community numerous opportunities to explore potential repertoire to include in their studios,” said Tyler, who joined Ohio Wesleyan in September. “It will also start conversations about how art, specifically opera, has the potential to act as a vehicle for social and political change and demonstrate how small things such as the figures you choose to highlight in your curriculum have meaning.”
Ohio Wesleyan’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grant program is overseen by the university’s Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. It was launched in 2021 with both student and faculty-staff funding categories and is part of Ohio Wesleyan’s larger Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan.
The plan seeks to “create meaningful and immediate change” in four areas: the structure and policies the university uses to strengthen equitable and inclusive practices, the ways it delivers its core mission of teaching and learning, the ways it recruits and retains students and employees, and the measures it uses to ensure the campus climate affirms “clearly and boldly” the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.