Monday Moments with President Bergman: April 12, 2021

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on April 12th, 2021 by

Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable?

President Rebecca M. Bergman

Learning and discomfort go hand-in-hand. Trying something new often feels completely awkward. Change is almost always uncomfortable. And yet, at the same time, personal growth comes out of being uncomfortable. When we tackle and accomplish difficult tasks, we gain resilience and strength.

This spring, the President’s Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (PCDEI) has asked that everyone in the Gustavus community participate in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) education. Along with about 100 other Gustavus students, faculty, and staff, I had the opportunity to participate in four DEI training sessions that were led by our DEI partners and consultants, Team Dynamics. At times, it was uncomfortable. And, through it all, I am learning and growing in my understanding of myself, my orientation to others, and my appreciation of differences associated with race, culture, and lived experiences. Here are a few of my take-aways:

  • Each of our identities are multi-faceted. By reflecting on my own identities, I can develop greater awareness of my own patterns of behavior and my own biases. I am a white female; my preferred pronouns are she/her/hers; I am a Christian; I grew up in a small town that was not very diverse; I am heterosexual and able-bodied.
  • Culture has three important elements: it consists of shared patterns that we use to make meaning to determine what is and is not appropriate behavior. Most of my identities (except my gender) are part of the dominant culture in the United States, and that has given me privilege in our society. I can use my experiences in a non-dominant culture, such as being a female engineer in a profession that was male-dominated, to better understand patterns of behavior and the challenges that come with difference.
  • We all have power (and influence). What matters is our choices in using power…for good versus bad, for helping versus harming; for promoting equity and inclusion versus hanging on to the status quo.
  • I can be an agent of change by paying attention to the characteristics of white dominant culture and consciously work to disrupt practices that are not serving our goals of equity and inclusion.
  • There are many additional resources that are available to continue my education around DEI.

Have you invested in your own DEI education this spring? If you have already done so, thank you. I encourage you to continue the DEI education journey. If you have not yet done so, I ask that you pick one of the suggested educational opportunities recommended by the PCDEI. Dive in and learn. Be willing to be uncomfortable in the process. Keep track of the learnings and insights you are gaining.

When we persevere through difficult periods of learning and change, the rewards are great. We become a better person, our team becomes a better team, and our organization becomes a better organization. And so, Gusties, let’s continue to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Yours in community,

President Bergman


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