Students in field

Jen Fry discusses race and inclusion in higher education at Finlandia

September 27, 2021

Social justice and anti-racism educator Jen Fry, Owner and CEO of Jen Fry Talks, came to Finlandia University on Sept. 18 to speak with students, faculty and staff in the Hirvonen Auditorium. Fry presents through an anti-racist lens on issues of race, inclusion, intersectionality, diversity and equity.

Fry’s social justice presentation was the kick-off event to ongoing work at Finlandia in the areas of social justice. Finlandia has been sponsoring multi-faceted and interdisciplinary events with the purpose of raising the individual and collective consciousness surrounding issues of social justice. Campus read, open lectures, webinars, discussion and films were explored in 2020-2021, and events will continue in the current academic year.

On Sept. 18, Fry delivered a high energy, engaging presentation by getting the entire campus community moving with pairing and sharing with each other while responding to prompts such as “What is the hardest part of learning new information that might be the opposite of what friends, family or high school teachers may have taught you?”, “What are your frames and lenses?” and “What is your conflict style?”. Students eagerly found new partners in the auditorium to share their responses and learn more about their peers. Students, faculty and coaches then took the stage to share some of the information that they discovered in the conversations.

Cindy Cowell, Chair of the President’s Task Force on Social Justice, said that she was “impressed with the energy and engagement that Fry created thru the use of the model of pair and share to guide the Finlandia community in a process of thinking critically about cultural competency.” Cowell shared that Fry put into action campus training that the Task Force has been presenting over the past year. “Jen’s guided conversations modeled to the campus community how to communicate authentically and open up brave spaces for conversation. The activity led participants to think critically and self-reflect on how to be part of creating an inclusive culture that allows diversity to be part of the culture.”

Jen Fry is a native of Arizona, a Division II athlete and veteran volleyball coach with over 15 years of experience at the collegiate level, with coaching stints at Elon University, the University of Illinois (2011 National Runner-Up), Washington State University and Norfolk State University. She turned social justice educator when she realized there was a need for educating not only students of all ages, but the administration’s employees and coaches who train them through an antiracist lens on issues of race, inclusion, intersectionality, diversity and equity. She is working on her doctoral degree in Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University.

Article provided by the Social Justice Task Force at Finlandia University. 

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