During his presentation, Benitez defined key terms that come up in discussions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, including structural racism, privilege, white supremacy, and Critical Race Theory. He also encouraged attendees to be aware of their own identities.
Benitez reminded the attendees that they have a responsibility to make change in the Ithaca College community, as they can have an incredible impact on the community during their time on campus.
“Higher education is not only an intellectual playground but a playground where we can learn and apply what we’re learning,” he said. “That’s the privilege that higher education offers.”
The event also provided an opportunity for students to give feedback. Benitez asked the audience what would make IC more comfortable for them, and students responded with ideas to increase diversity in staff and increase accessibility for students with disabilities. The audience was so engaged that the discussion continued for nearly an hour after his talk ended.
For Angélica Carrington, director of the Center for IDEAS, this event series is a valuable opportunity for students to educate themselves about diversity and inclusion.
“We can’t just do one and be done; that’s why we have several speakers coming this year,” Carrington said. “This work is important. It’s important to learners in the classroom and it’s also important to learn it and how to apply it outside the classroom.”