Mendoza hosts event to open dialogue for students, faculty, and community members
Each year, Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame hosts Ethics Week, a time devoted to increasing the dialogue around topical ethical issues in the business world and society at large. This year’s theme was “Beginning with Empathy: Listening and Learning from Others.” Ethics Week 2021 was held from February 16 to February 19.
As they attended the numerous events held throughout the week, undergraduate and graduate students conversed about the importance of empathy alongside faculty members.
The week began on Tuesday with a presentation by Christopher Adkins, Associate Teaching Professor in the Management & Organization Department and Academic Director of Leadership Development. He spoke about “Getting Better at Empathy: The Science and Practice of Standing Under Another’s Experience.”
Wednesday’s panel event, entitled “ND Student Voices on Empathy & Racial Justice,” was led by two undergraduate and two graduate students who shared their experiences as people of color at Notre Dame. Associate Teaching Professor Jessica McManus-Warnell shared in the opening remarks, “No communities are immune from this issue [of racial injustice].”
Students were particularly struck by this event, as they could hear from their peers about how diversity and inclusion affects every aspect of campus life. The panelists discussed their involvement in initiatives meant to increase diversity at ND and gave suggestions on how to open the dialogue surrounding racial injustice on campus.
One graduate MBA student, Faith Achangwa, shared that one of the main reasons she chose to attend graduate school at ND was because of its core mission: to educate the mind, but not at the expense of the heart. This fundamental pillar of Notre Dame, standing in light of racial injustice, emphasizes how great of an opportunity ND has to use its role as a top educator and well-acclaimed institution to further equity and inclusivity in society.
Another MBA student, Ahsan Mohar, stated that Notre Dame has an ethical responsibility to be at the forefront of these initiatives, because of, and not in spite of, its mission. He said that lack of diversity and inclusivity leads to other, more long-term, issues, especially for the students of color who are impacted by different treatment and a lack of acceptance at school.
Undergraduate junior Max Siegel II shared that black students make up the majority of the students who are the fastest to move off campus. Within this statistic, he said, lies a cycle that needs to be broken. Siegel explained that when there aren’t any other people around that look like you, you are not going to feel as welcome. Thus, students of color are more likely to move off campus sooner, thereby perpetuating the issue by ensuring that future students of color won’t see many others like them on campus.
One shocking statistic shared was that 32% of minority students on campus were not willing to recommend Notre Dame to someone who looked like them. Without seeing other students who look like them in the residence halls, as RAs, or sitting next to them in class, many students of color do not feel like they belong as much as other students.
The panelists gave “next steps” for how to continue building a diverse community of inclusivity. Achangwa and Mohar both said that ND must make it a priority to bring in more diverse students. Achangwa, Siegel, and a second undergraduate student, Michael Perez, emphasized the power of active listening and relearning how to love one another. Perez focused heavily on the importance of understanding what microaggressions are and how to address them. Siegel concluded with stressing the importance of simply creating space for discourse to happen.
This year’s theme of empathy invited students and community members alike to delve deeper into their surroundings and to think about how they might move forward to communicate and coexist in a more empathetic way. Previous themes of Ethics Week have included “Women Lead” in 2020, “Economic Inequality: On Campuses, in Communities and at Companies” in 2019, and “Lead Local, Lead Global” in 2018.
It is the hope that the annual event will inform, resonate with, and inspire future leaders to be better equipped with knowledge of the fast-moving world around them.
Sydney Missigman is a junior management consulting and Spanish supplementary major from Goodyear, Arizona. If she is not watching the sunset from her lake-view room in Lewis Hall, you can spot her sitting near the lakes or at the Grotto. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.