Faculty of Color Dinner offers reflection, connection for staff

Abigail Salzhauer, Staff Writer

On Monday night, faculty and staff who identify as people of color (POC) gathered off campus for a dinner held by the Office for Identity, Culture and Institutional Equity (ICIE).

The dinner, which has been taking place since 2013, happens twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. The dinner serves as a confidential affinity space for faculty and staff that self identify as people of color to connect with each other and discuss shared experiences at the school, ICIE Associate Sharina Gordon said.

“We started doing this dinner because the number of people of color in the faculty and staff was growing and we felt it was a good opportunity to bring people together,” Director the ICIE Patricia Zuroski said.

The event gave faculty and staff who may work on different parts of the campus and don’t get to interact the opportunity to share experiences, Zuroski said.

“The event was a wonderful opportunity to connect, have conversations and meet new people,” Candice Powell-Caldwell ICIE Associate said.

The event has grown and the number of faculty and staff of color on campus have increased, Co-Director of the ICIE John Gentile said. In addition, the event has changed from strictly a gathering to a place to reflect and think about what faculty and staff of color need in the community, Gentile said.

The event has never had a keynote speaker, rather, the attendees have the opportunity to break up into small groups and discuss aspects of curriculum or better ways to support faculty of color from an institutional standpoint, in addition to a general checkin as to how things are going, Gordon said.

“My biggest motivation for attending the dinner is, as a new faculty member, I wanted an opportunity to, first of all, meet other faculty and staff who identify as people of color, and also to get a different perspective on Horace Mann as an institution and see the opportunities available to us and places where there is work to be done,” Upper Division history teacher Ricardo Alvarez-Pimentel said.

Gordon looked forward to getting to meet the new faculty and staff of color and being able to have a more intimate moment with them.

“As a faculty member this helped me feel support in many ways and there is an aspect of mentorship that was there informally which in turn allows me to be a more prepared educator when I go into the classroom,” Alvarez-Pimentel said.