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Campus Community Encouraged to "Speak Up"

A full house for the Speak Up workshop.
A full house for the Speak Up workshop.
2/3/2011 —

DuBois – A workshop for students, faculty, and staff at Penn State DuBois offered ways to combat bigotry and intolerance in day-to-day life.  The work shop, Speak Up, Responding to Everyday Bigotry, takes its message from a book by the same name, penned by author Brian Willoughby.  Presentations by faculty and staff were guided by lessons in the book, and inspired by real-life experience.  They offered insight on methods to combat issues such bullying, sexism, stereotypes, and more. 


English professor Elizabeth Evans offered her take on prejudice, as she experienced it first hand when she lived in Paris, France for a year when she was nine years old.  Her family moved out of the US, to France, where her father completed graduate work, placing the young American girl in French school where she was a minority. 


"That experience changed the way I look at things in my world," Evans said.  "It showed me that things I took for granted and things that were easy for me at home aren't always easy for everyone else."   


Director of Student Affairs Rebecca Pennington spoke about casual comments that people make in everyday life that have the ability to hurt others, even if they are not intended to hurt.  She drew upon her own experience, offering comments that have been made to her when people find out her son is adopted.


"People have asked me things like, 'where's his real mother?'," Pennington said.  "I am his real mother," she continued, explaining that strong family bonds don't have to be based in biological relation, and that often people just don't realize what they're saying.


Chancellor Anita McDonald agreed, and offered a suggestion for handling such situations.  She said, "Some people don't know they're saying something insensitive.  So, you have to be sensitive enough to realize that, and help them learn." 


The Speak Up workshop was part of the campus student diversity series, and one of several activities celebrating the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. planned at Penn State DuBois during January and February.


Other presentations during the workshop were, Biased Bullying, by Debbie Gill, Professor of Spanish, and Sexist Remarks, by Marly Doty, Student Life Coordinator.  A conclusion to the workshop was offered by Human Development and Family Studies instructor James Kuterbach.

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