Faculty Guide for Difficult Conversations

This resource is a guide for Kansas State University faculty to engage in difficult conversations.

To engage in difficult conversations we must all acknowledge, as faculty, that there are times when some of our students do not feel safe in the classroom. This can be for any number of reasons. When our students do not feel safe in our classrooms, they are not able to learn. It is our duty to provide a safe, productive, and student-centered learning environment. We must embrace opportunities to reach out to students and create spaces in our classrooms to discuss difficult issues such as racially charged incidents in our community, sexual violence, and many other issues. This guide and the resources provided with it exist to help our faculty engage in these difficult and necessary conversations and to serve all of our students and to fully realize our Principles of Community.

These issues span across all disciplines. We all must acknowledge that we play a role in making our campus safe and supporting our students. It is our duty to do so. Faculty in all disciplines are encouraged to support our students and each other when these issues arise and to also engage in their own learning and development about diversity and inclusion.

We encourage all faculty to attend and engage with the various diversity and inclusion related events on campus and in the community. This simple step can help you become more comfortable engaging in difficult conversations.

Engaging in difficult conversations around diversity and inclusion is critically important for our campus community for many reasons:

  1. Embracing and supporting diversity and inclusion is a core value of our campus community and it is the right thing to do.
  2. Embracing and supporting diversity and inclusion are a vital part of our K-State Principles of Community and who we aspire to be as a community.
  3. We know employers value diversity and inclusion and knowledge and skills in navigating difficult issues and it is our duty to foster that knowledge and those skills in our students.

Principles of Community

We affirm our Principles of Community below. Further, we encourage all faculty to personally affirm our principles of community. Please use the principles to anchor your discussions and refer to them as you engage in difficult conversations.

  • Kansas State University is a land-grant, public research university committed to teaching and learning, research, and service to the people of Kansas, the nation, and the world. Our collective mission is best accomplished when every member ofthe university community acknowledges and practices the following principles:
  • We affirm the inherent dignity and value of every person and strive to maintain an atmosphere of justice based on respect foreach other.
  • We affirm the value of human diversity and inclusion for community. We stand united against all forms of discrimination.
  • We affirm the right of each person to freely express thoughts and opinions in a spirit of civility and decency. We believe that diversity of views enriches our learning environment, and we promote open expression within a climate of courtesy, sensitivity, and mutual respect.
  • We affirm the value of honesty and integrity. We will operate with honesty in all professional endeavors and expect the same from our colleagues.
  • We acknowledge that we are a part of multiple communities, and we have an obligation to be engaged in a positive way with our civic partners.
  • We recognize our individual obligations to the university community and to the principles that sustain it. We will each strive tocontribute to a positive spirit that affirms learning and growth for all members of the community.

These principles have been endorsed by the following university governance bodies:

  • Student Governing Association
  • Graduate Student Council
  • Graduate Council
  • Faculty Senate
  • University Support Staff Senate
  • Office of the President
  • Office of the Provost

Recommendations for Action

Following the Recommendations for Action from the College of Arts and Sciences Diversity Committee, we encourage administrators, students, faculty and staff to:

  • Educate themselves on the history of hate that informs stereotypes and systemic injustices.
  • Use their voice to address instances of hateful speech, actions and symbolism, as they occur.
  • Educate themselves on the university anti-discrimination policy.
  • Report discrimination to the Office of Institutional Equity.
  • Report crimes to the K-State Police.
  • Document (e.g. pictures, video recordings) when and where these instances happen, as well as the response from the campus community, and add to your reports as listed above.

Creating and Supporting a Respectful and Supportive Environment in Your Classroom

Resources for Faculty and Students

This guide was created by Dr. Andrew Wefald.