Central College News

Building Central’s Culture of Inclusion During Welcome Week

Featured: Building Central’s Culture of Inclusion During Welcome Week

August 18, 2022

Central College’s annual Welcome Week will feature new programs to nurture and build upon Central’s culture of caring for others, engaged citizenship and inclusion.

Welcome Week, scheduled for Aug. 19-25, introduces students to campus services, resources, academic advising, fun and socializing opportunities along with the Step into Central gathering and the special ceremony Turning Over the Class with Mark Putnam, Central president, and Quinn Deahl, student body president.

The Student Leader Fall Training will focus on the campus-wide theme Engaged Citizenship and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion. It will highlight the need to acknowledge biases and to be culturally competent and trauma-informed care.

Romonda D. Belcher, a District Associate Judge, will join the Student Leader Fall Training. Belcher became the first African American female judge in the State of Iowa in 2010. Prior to her appointment to the bench, she served as an Assistant Polk County Attorney for 15 years prosecuting juvenile, criminal and civil matters.

Belcher has presided over civil and criminal matters and currently presides over juvenile dependency and delinquency cases. She officiates over Polk County’s therapeutic, peer-based Family Treatment Court, designed to assist parents with services toward maintaining sobriety, achieving self-sufficiency and being reunited with their children. She provides judicial training on trauma and being trauma informed. She serves on several councils and committees to improve Iowa’s juvenile and criminal justice systems.

On Sunday, Aug. 21, following the “Title IX: It’s On All of Us” presentation with Peggy Fitch, Central’s Title IX coordinator and equity officer, the campus is invited to the film screening of “Race to be Human,” a documentary that explores ways to teach about racism.

On Monday, Aug. 22, students are invited to a BIPOC+ (Black, Indigenous, people of color and white allies) Meet and Greet to foster respect and inclusion on campus.

Sean Wiseman, assistant dean of students, explains, “this gathering aims to foster respectful, brave and safer spaces where all can share, encourage and support each other in both affinity and multicultural groups.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 23, all students will attend events focused on being good citizens. First-year students will participate in Mentors in Violence Prevention. This workshop empowers students to take an active role as a bystander by intervening in situations that include bullying, harassment and sexual assault.

Second-year students will meet with Breanne Ward, a licensed mental health counselor and a certified rehabilitation counselor, who will continue a discussion from last year about Mentors in Violence Prevention.

Kristi Leonard, assistant dean of students and a 1997 Central graduate, orchestrated this program. “Breanne will emphasize bystander intervention and violence prevention with the addition of diversity, equity and inclusion information.”

Ward has expertise in race-related, childhood, sexual and intimate partner trauma. She is currently working with Central’s Building a Culture of Inclusion initiative teams to create five podcasts covering: The N Word, Crucial Conversations, Micro Aggressions, Belonging at a Predominantly White Institution and Offended and Offender Fallout.

Third-year students will join Kimberly Fitten, founder of ReSet Consulting LLC, for a discussion about the Junior Journey. She will focus on creating and taking ownership of the culture they want and the leader they want to be. She will encourage students to lean into discomfort and to learn about, get to know and educate themselves about new things and people.

“My mission is to equip people to do the work themselves, in their daily lives without guilt, shame or blame,” Fitten says. “Guilt, shame and blame produce compliance, and compliance does not cultivate change or sustainability.”

On Thursday, Aug. 25, new students and student orientation staff will attend the “Can I Kiss You?” program with award-winning author, publisher and speaker Mike Domitrz. He returns to Central for a fun, impactful program on dating and intimacy.

Welcome Week activities such as auditions for various musical ensembles, residence hall meetings, wellness resources, service projects, Central’s Involvement Fair, athletics competitions and social events will continue through the Labor Day weekend.