MISHAWAKA--Bethel launched its Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in July 2019; the initiative has included campus activities and chapel talks intended to draw students’ attention to the racial tensions in America.
When Bethel received the $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment, they proposed a plan for the money that included funding for activities involving the diversity and inclusion initiative. The new Civil Rights Heritage Trip will be funded by this grant, and it is the first time a trip of this kind that will be offered to Bethel students. The trip is scheduled for Feb. 25 through March 3, 2021.
Participants who are selected through the application process will get the opportunity to visit locations in the South where significant civil rights events took place. The trip will start in Atlanta, Ga., and stop at Montgomery, Ala., and Birmingham, Ala., and will finish in Selma, Ala. It will be an all-expense paid trip for all of those accepted.
Although the funding from Lilly Endowment is available for three years, there is a possibility this trip will continue according to Cristian Mihut, associate professor of philosophy and an advocate of the diversity and inclusion initiative.
“I think that Bethel will continue this even after three years support by Lilly expires because we think it’s an institutional priority,” Mihut said.
Mihut also believes this trip would have been funded with or without the funds from Lilly because of the impact it could make on campus.
“We thought that that’s something that an institution that wants to grow in their awareness and advancement of racial justice needs to do,” Mihut said.
Ten students will be selected for the trip through the application process. The application will ask students why they are interested in the trip, how well they handle conflict and teamwork and questions pertaining to their current views on certain topics.
“This is part of the motivation, is to empower the students to be, really, champions of racial justice on campus,” said Mihut.
Once students return, they will share what they have learned on the trip with students who did not attend. Also, before and after the trip, students will be expected to attend meetings and complete readings and assignments. These responsibilities are expected of the students so they will get the most out of the trip and so that it can be a transformative experience for the entire university.
“It’s one thing to learn by reading about the place or about the history. It's another thing to be present. It's another thing to immerse yourself in the reality, the texture, the feel, the time, the space, the objects that have contributed to the liberation from racism,” Mihut said.
This is the first trip of its kind to be brought to Bethel, and it could potentially make great change in the area of diversity and inclusion.
Mihut is working closely with Tyler Grant, the director of Global Engagement and Career Services, to review and accept students for the trip. Students who are interested can scan the QR Code on the flyer to access the application form or can contact either Mihut or Grant for updates and additional information.