Grant Helps Hartwick, SUNY Build Community Bridges

Oneonta’s Equity Coalition Program isn’t just about helping students stand up in the face of bias and discrimination.

It’s about opening up conversations with the community about how to prevent those incidents from happening at all.

“We’re the adults in the room,” said Alicia Richardson, diversity, inclusion, and belonging officer. “We need to go to places in the community where students are experiencing bias and help to understand how their actions are affecting our students.”

After hearing reports of bias and harassment against students from Oneonta businesses, representatives from Hartwick, SUNY Oneonta and the Community Foundation of Otsego County teamed up to form a coalition to create change through empowerment by building a bridge towards belonging in Oneonta.

The group, which includes staff from both colleges, met with community partners, including Walmart and Oneonta Public Transportation, to ask how they could better build bridges.

Alicia Richardson, Hartwick College

“We have had some really good conversations. They agreed to put in the work to improve student interactions and collaborate with us.”

Alicia Richardson

Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Officer

To continue that work, the Equity Coalition reached out to the Community Foundation of Otsego County, who awarded them $5,000 to continue creating opportunities for students to engage with Oneonta businesses – and for businesses to better engage with students.

“It’s a two-pronged approach,” said Richardson. “We want to create ‘Know Your Rights’ campaigns and let students know they can report bias when it happens, but we also want to provide learning opportunities for the community so that we can prevent bias from happening.”

December 13, 2023
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