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Civility Week 2020: Social Justice

civility week

October 13–16, 2020

This year’s Civility Week theme is social justice.

So far in 2020 we have experienced a major global pandemic, economic crisis, and social unrest given the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. President Joyce F. Brown and the entire college community are focusing their efforts on educating and promoting social justice. During the next couple of days we will have presentations, remarks, and a diversity comic con focusing on civility now and in a post-pandemic world.

For the FIT Community

Most Civility Week activities are for FIT students, faculty, and staff only; you will be asked to log in to the sessions using your FIT username and password (the same login info you use for MyFIT).  

Join the Civility Week Events Here

For the General Public

The Jericho Brown speaker event and Diversity Comic Con are free and open to the public; feel free to share that event info with your friends and family.

Wednesday, October 14, 5–6 pm

Jericho Brown Livestream

Civility and Its Limits—Speaking Out Through Poetry with Jericho Brown
Moderated by Dr. Amy Lemmon, English and Communication Studies

Livestream Event

Friday and Saturday, October 16 and 17

Diversity Comic Con
A keynote address will be delivered by Shawn Martinbrough, veteran comic book artist. 

Diversity Comic Con

Visit Diversity Comic Con website for full schedule of events


Civility Week 2020 – Program Information


Noon–1 pm
Collective/Cultural Trauma: Group Conversation
Rachel Druker

A virtual community circle program. The community circle will focus on the collective trauma that our students have experienced since March. This circle will include discussions of how intersecting identities have impacted students individually and within their communities. This will also serve as a space to discuss cultural/collective trauma, what aspects of their lives have changed, and shared experiences and emotions. 

4–5:30 pm
Healing in Uncivil Times
Gloria Jetter, LCSW, and Jennifer Stachacz, LCSW

This workshop aims to educate and demonstrate to students therapeutic practices that release stress and promote overall wellness and balancing. We find that health and wellness is key to helping students navigate tensions and difficult conversations in the classroom and in the world at large. It will provide an introductory didactic on ancient healing modalities in sound bath and reiki to support deep relaxation, help cope with difficulties, relieve emotional stress, and improve overall well-being.

Empaths in Higher Education (student session)
Marissa Stephani and Denise Delgado-Pesante

This session will explore the use of empathy in difficult conversations and how individuals who hold the identity of an empath can recognize their talents and develop skills and strategies for healthy interactions with others.

1–2 pm 
Courteous Oppression: How to Respond When People Weaponize Civility
Dr. Nurhayat Bilge and Dr. Matthew Petrunia

Civility is a term associated with respect, tolerance, and even acceptance. It is viewed as a necessity for a peaceful society. However, civility can also be utilized as a strategy to silence marginalized voices. Under a guise of good intentions, courtesy, reasonableness, and respect, a discussion grounded in civility can transform into polite domination of individuals and a way to restrain uncomfortable dialogue. What is even more disturbing, some may use civility as a way of censoring diverse people and their lived experiences. In this session, Dr. Nurhayat Bilge and Dr. Matthew Petrunia will discuss the ways civility can be weaponized for oppression and open a dialogue with the audience regarding possible and positive responses to these strategies.

4–5 pm
Empaths in Higher Education (staff/faculty session)
Marissa Stephani and Denise Delagdo-Pesante

This session will explore the use of empathy in difficult conversations and how individuals who hold the identity of an empath can recognize their talents and develop skills and strategies for healthy interactions with others.

5–6 pm
Sexual Civility
Gloria Jetter and Cody Kirkpatrick

The goal of this discussion is to empower students to stay true to their values, expectations, and needs within sexual encounters as well as building respect for others, promoting equality, and raising the bar for sexual conduct. As most sex education tends to focus on “safe sex,” medical risks, consent, and what do to if one is sexually assaulted, there is often a missing dialogue around intimacy, love, relationships, mutual respect, and pleasure. Clear communication is key when it comes to expectations and boundaries of sexual encounters and a discussion group can be an effective tool in facilitating such dialogue.

5–6 pm  Open to the Public
Civility and Its Limits—Speaking Out Through Poetry with Jericho Brown
Moderated by Dr. Amy Lemmon, English and Communication Studies

Jericho Brown at Civility Week at FIT

Livestream Event

Celebrated poet Jericho Brown will read from his work and answer questions in a virtual visit with the FIT community. Brown is author of The Tradition (Copper Canyon, 2019) for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he is the winner of the Whiting Award. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues, 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon, 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His third collection, The Tradition, won the Paterson Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. His poems have appeared in The Bennington Review, Buzzfeed, Fence, jubilat, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, TIME, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry. He is a professor at Emory University and is the director of the creative writing program.

Noon–1 pm
Cultivating Just and Equitable Learning Environments
Brian Fallon, Sarah Blazer, and Peer Consultants

This panel of FIT Writing and Speaking Studio peer consultants will discuss their efforts to create a fair, just, and equitable learning environment in our studio. Drawing on their work to revise the studio’s code of ethics statement, they will provide recommendations for faculty interested in cultivating learning environments that are sensitive to racial justice, gender inclusivity, neurodiversity, and linguistic diversity. In addition, peer consultants will discuss potential positive classroom experiences that can make for more respectful dialogue around important social and cultural issues in everything from academic disciplines to the industry.

1–2 pm
Through Our Eyes 2020
Suzanne Sullivan McGillicuddy
Documentary premiere and conversation by student collective SpotlightFIT.

Also part of the Campus Exhibitions and Art and Design Gallery Colloborative Artist Talk Lecture Series. 

Spotlight FIT made the socially distanced documentary Through Our Eyes 2020 to amplify voices of Black, Indigenous, and POC students at FIT. The 2019–20 academic year impacted students’ lives deeply. The documentary features interviews with eight current and former FIT students regarding how the 2019–20 academic year, in addition to racism on campus, affected their educational and creative lives. The students discuss their experiences with a racist incident at the MFA Fashion Show, the COVID-19 crisis, and the Black Lives Matter uprisings across the nation. 
Session note: Please actively listen to the testimonials of these students and their experiences with an open mind. Spotlight’s goal is to create a dialogue for students who feel unheard. We encourage you to listen actively while reflecting on your own privileges and participation in systemic racism. The views expressed in this documentary are those of its participants and may not necessarily represent the views of the Fashion Institute of Technology.  

1–4 pm
Safe Zone Training
Cody Kirkpatrick

Safe Zone training includes the following: an opportunity for participants to reflect on their earliest messages regarding the LGBTQ community and where they received these messages; a terminology review; a video on further understanding of what it means to identify as gender queer/nonconforming or as a transgender person; what it means to “come out”; best practices for being an ally to LGBTQ students/peers; and ways to make your classrooms more inclusive.

Those who participate in this free professional development opportunity will receive a “Safe Zone” symbol to display in their office. This symbol indicates that you are an ally who has been properly trained on LGBTQ issues, terminology, and ways to support those in need. We look forward to your joining us and being a part of this initiative to further inclusion and understanding at FIT.

Space is limited; faculty/staff who wish to participate in this training must register for Safe Zone Training by noon on Tuesday, October 13.

4–5:30 pm
Cultural Intelligence: A Look at Global Sourcing
Michael Serwetz

What are the responsibilities of global sourcing, other than buying goods at the cheapest price? These responsibilities include cultural intelligence and respect, as well as a buyer’s moral and business responsibility in choosing and working with overseas factories. Cultural intelligence requires us to have knowledge or understanding of how a person from a particular country lives and behaves (race, religion, etc.), and how this affects the way they do business.

Diversity Comic Con

Diversity Comic Con showcases the talents of a multicultural gallery of artists from within and outside of the FIT community. Through exhibited art and dialogue, students and the greater FIT community are exposed to this creative art form and critical thinking.

Check out the schedule and list of guest presenters

About Civility Week

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion hosts Civility Week, a week of activities, talks, and workshops aimed at achieving the goals of FIT’s civility initiative. 

The initiative is aimed at engaging our community in a discussion of respectful ways of living and learning in a higher education environment. FIT encourages our community to behave with civility.  A community upholding civility respects the rights of individuals and groups. It is characterized by understanding and considerations of the differences among members of the community. The diversity of the college adds to the richness of campus life, and FIT expects all members of the community to respect both differences and commonalities.