Rutgers–Camden Students Engage in Conversations about Diversity and Inclusion Thanks to Innovative Program


Oscar Holmes interviewing Rutgers Law Professor Stacy Hawkins

Oscar Holmes interviewing Rutgers Law Professor Stacy Hawkins

By Jeanne Leong

A Rutgers University‒Camden speaker series aims to help students feel comfortable while they are learning and developing friendships and support systems on campus.

Beyond the Mill” provides a welcoming environment for the campus community to join host Oscar Holmes IV, an associate professor of management, and other faculty and area business and community leaders to discuss thought-provoking topics involving diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“I get a lot of gratification out of publishing my own diversity, equity, and inclusion research and reading others’ research on the topic, but diversity and inclusion work doesn’t stop or start at publication,” says Holmes. “My goal for ‘Beyond the Mill’ is to provide a healthy place for identity exploration, identity growth, and a catalyst to eliminate systemic oppression.”

Sophomore Emanuel Rodriguez says that by addressing issues about identity, orientation, relationships, and finding community, the “Beyond the Mill” program helps to make the campus an inclusive space for everyone.

The accounting and finance major from Camden believes that the program prepares students to handle issues that they will encounter in the workplace. “Whether you are a black male entering a workforce full of white males, a homosexual trying to fit in with society, or a woman trying to break the glass ceiling, you might face some difficult challenges. Open conversation helps prepare us for those challenges.”

Launched in the fall of 2018 in collaboration with the Rutgers‒Camden Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the program has featured topics such as race in college admissions, LGBTQIA+ identities within the university setting, and the #MeToo movement and eradicating sexual harassment and assault.

Oscar Holmes interviews Gender Studies Professor Gail Caputo and TiAira Neal of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Oscar Holmes interviewing Gail Caputo, director of the Gender Studies Program and TiAira Neal of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

“I really feel that the program is the best way to get many different people together in the same room to learn about these topics,” says Holmes.

The program’s executive producer, TiAira Neal of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, works with Holmes to publicize the “Beyond the Mill” series to the campus community.

On Oct. 2, “Beyond the Mill” kicked off its second season with a program in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, featuring attorney Jason Hernandez of the Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project and Trisha Trinidad, a Rutgers–Camden undergraduate student and president of the Latin American Student Organization.

A discussion on how to have conversations about race was held on Nov. 6, featuring Patricia Kline, a lecturer in the Rutgers School of Business–Camden, and David Cheatham, the president of Transform Communications.

On Dec. 4, the program features Mary Beth Daisey, Rutgers‒Camden vice chancellor for student affairs, and Patrick Wallace, associate director of the Campus Center, for a discussion on being an effective ally to anyone who feels marginalized. The program is open to the entire campus community.

The programs are taped and available for viewing any time on the Office of Diversity and Inclusion website. “Life is hectic and people have many demands on their time,” says Holmes. “So I tried to make it as accessible to as many people as possible.”

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