Dr. Shayani Bhattacharya, assistant professor of English, is deeply committed to weaving diversity and inclusion into the College’s daily life. She’s a member of the College’s Inclusive Excellence Task Force, has co-organized faculty workshops on inclusion, participated in Intergroup Dialogues, and has presented at the annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence.

“The Inclusive Excellence Task Force is an excellent endeavor—it has representation from all over campus, and people are being held accountable for making campus, their classes, and their curriculum more inclusive,” she said. “This year, we are scheduling a variety of trainings to help faculty plan how to make their classroom spaces more inclusive so that our students feel safe, welcome, and equal in our classrooms.”

During the 2020 Symposium on Inclusive Excellence, Bhattacharya and Theresa J. Rosenberg, fellow assistant professor of English, led faculty, staff, and students through an exercise that allows participants to experience cultural differences firsthand. 

“BaFá BaFá is a simulation game where you have two groups of people—an “alpha culture” and a “beta culture”—each with its own rules, ways of communications, and economy,” Bhattacharya explained. “Players visit each other’s culture with no awareness of its rules and try to interact—but it’s hard to interact with a different group culture without knowing its rules. It’s fascinating to see how people think and feel about others who don’t act and speak the way they expect them to.

Bhattacharya said a truly inclusive campus is one where the burden of equality doesn’t fall solely on ALANA students or faculty. Instead, “[i]t’s where people have a sense that this is a brave and a safe space where we can address the issues that matter to us in a meaningful and insightful way—and not as if it’s something nominally acknowledged. I envision a campus where we hold workshops to educate us on how to carry out those conversations and where we build inclusive communities, and it’s not just something you do on a Saturday if you’re into it.”