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Society is becoming increasingly diverse and higher education campuses are now home to students and staff from different backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. In response to increasing student diversity, higher education institutions have tended to rely on specialist staff, as well as the commitment of particular academic faculty, who often assume the role of ‘access champion’. This often leads to access, participation, and success being ‘owned’ by the few, rather than the many: this in effect runs counter to national access policy, which envisions the student population as reflecting the diversity of Ireland’s population (DES, 2011). In line with this vision, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) recommends that “the next step is to integrate the principle of equity of access more fully into the everyday life of the HEIs so that it permeates all faculties and departments, and is not marginalised as the responsibility of the designated access office”( HEA, 2015, p. 25).

At MTU inclusivity is specifically listed as the first of four core values whereby ‘we strive to support and nurture inclusivity, diversity and equality, recognising the value they have to the future of our students, staff and the wider community’. Furthermore, MTU identifies the engagement and empowerment of staff as a strategic enabler, committing to actions and initiatives that seek to ensure and promote a culture of inclusion, diversity and equality where staff and students are respected and valued across the University.

MTU’s staff and students came together to organise an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Awareness (EDI) Programme for staff and students across the month of April 2021. The aim was to increase awareness among staff and students of the issues around equality, diversity and inclusion in higher education and in doing so it is hoped that we can continue to effect positive change within MTU to ensure that the principle of equal access to higher education for all is firmly embedded within our university creating a fairer society in which everyone can participate and has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

EDI Programme 2021

The following was the schedule of events that took place – each event was hosted online due to COVID-19 restrictions:

Date & Time

Event Title

13th April 2021

11:30-12:00

Launch of EDI Awareness Programme 2020/21

  • Professor Margaret Linehan, Head of School of Humanities, MTU Cork
  • Professor Maggie Cusack, President of MTU,
  • Cian O' Driscoll, Vice President Welfare, MTU Cork Students Union
  • Petrina Comerford, President MTU Kerry Students Union

View Recording

13th April 2021

12:00 -13:00

Other Voices

A space to hear other voices, telling other stories, from other perspectives.

Chaired By:

  • Deirdre Creedon, Access Service, MTU Cork

Featuring:

  • Dr Pio Fenton, Head of Marketing & International Business, CIT – the impact of the Marriage Equality Referendum to the LGBTI+ community
  • Emma Larkin, Founder of “ Emma Larkin Books ” and “Rebel in Kerry Press” – the criticality of sport in the wellbeing and development of young girls
  • David Punch, former CIT Graduate and now a Singer-Songwriter & Motivational Speaker – examining life through the lens of Asperger's Syndrome
  • Marian Hennessy, Supported Employment Specialist and Co-ordinator of Ability@Work , Cope Foundation –the need to create inclusive workplaces
  • Craig Kelly, Employee, Ability@Work – the right of people with disabilities to employment
  • Jamie Murray, Employee, Ability@Work - the right of people with disabilities to employment
  • Breda Hogan, Student Services Intern & CIT Graduate – higher education from the perspective of the Travelling Community

View Recording

15th April 2021

12:00-13:00

The Impact of Menopause in the Workplace

Introduced By:

  • Liz Barrett, Human Resources, MTU Cork

Speaker:

Description

When a woman goes through the menopause, the symptoms can have a devastating effect on her work life, social life, and relationships.

Women going through the menopause often find that they are met with a lack of understanding and empathy in their workplace. Misunderstanding and lack of information about the menopause contribute to everything from dips in employee performance to loss of employees. It is important therefore that organisations make every effort to give their employees the tools necessary to ensure an understanding of the menopause is firmly embedded at all levels within an organisation.

View Recording

View Resources:

  1. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for Menopausal Symptoms
  2. Menopause in the Workplace: Opening the MenopauseConversation

16th April 2021

12:00-13:00

Unsilencing Black Voices

Introduced By:

  • Cian O’Driscoll, Vice President Welfare, MTU Cork Students Union

Speakers:

Description

There is often a misconception that due to our history of colonisation, racism does not take place in Ireland, but this is not true. Racism has existed in Ireland for a long time and it is important to educate ourselves about the different types of racism that people can experience in order to actively work to be anti-racist in our daily lives.

This event was an opportunity to hear from members of the black community in Ireland who shared their personal stories of growing up, living and working in this country, their experiences of identity and racism, and their views on what needs to be done to make Ireland a more inclusive society.


View Recording

19th April 2021

15:00-16:00

The International Experience

Introduced By:

  • Zack Nutchanat, Vice President Education, MTU Cork Students Union

Speakers:

  • Zouhair El Hairan, International Student, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain
  • Elise Hennebry, former International Student and current Fundraising Executive, External Affairs. MTU Cork
  • Rohini Roy, former CIT graduate and International Student

Description

Every year, people from all over the world travel to different countries in Europe to work and study. Ireland is the destination of choice for some, particularly international students, with its reputation for having a high-quality education system, being English speaking and being a friendly and welcoming destination.

But what’s it really like being an international student? Hear, first-hand from our panel of current and former international students about their experiences, the benefits they perceive of being an international student and the challenges they faced and had to overcome.

View Recording

20th April 2021

14:00-15:30

Understanding Autism and Inclusive Education

Introduced By:

  • Ruth Murphy, Disability Support Service, MTU Cork

Speaker:

  • James Moroney, Training Officer, AsIAm

Description

AsIAm ran an awareness session for all MTU staff and students to provide a greater understanding of autism and the role that each of us can play in making MTU more autism friendly.

By the end of this session, participants had a greater understanding of:

  • What autism is
  • The four main challenges that autistic people face
  • The strengths of autistic people
  • Autism friendly language
  • The supports that we each can put in place to include autistic people in all aspects of college life.

View Slide Deck

AsIAm YouTube Channel

21st April 2021

13:00-14:00

Men's Health - Prostate, Testicular & Bowel Cancer Awareness

Introduced By:

  • Liz Barrett, Human Resources, MTU Cork

Presented By:

Description

Cancer has overtaken heart disease as the most common cause of death in Ireland. Stopping cancer before it starts and detecting it early are the keys to survival.

The goal of this session was to raise awareness amongst men of the signs and symptoms of prostate, testicular and bowel cancer so as to increase the chances of early detection and to help men make appropriate lifestyle changes that can help reduce their risk of cancer.

Marie Keating Foundation - Get Men Talking

22nd April 2021

14:00-15:30

Celebrating Deaf Community Culture

Introduced By:

  • Ruth Murphy, Disability Support Service, MTU Cork

Speaker:

Description

The Deaf community often describes itself as a ‘cultural-linguistic minority’ and prefers not to be classified as a disability group. It sees itself as being part of a unique community with similar backgrounds, interests, values, a strong sense of empathy in shared experiences which include; growing up Deaf, educational experiences, barriers they may have faced in being a part of the general community, or as the Deaf community would say; the hearing community.

The Deaf community is made up of Deaf, hard of hearing and deafened people. However, they welcome those who are not Deaf too. Being part of the Deaf community means you are able to use, understand and respect Irish Sign Language.

This event celebrated and promoted an understanding of Deafness and Deaf Culture. The talk incorporated some introduction to basic Signs and a Sign Language interpreter was present.

22nd April 2021

19:00-21:00

Revisiting Strictly Come Dancing

Introduced By:

  • Kyra Dunne & Ann O’Halloran on behalf of CIT Charity Committee and CIT Strictly Dancers

Oh, what a night? The night of Friday, 9th March 2018, stands out in the hearts and minds of many MTU Cork staff and has been dubbed by some as one of the best nights that MTU Cork has ever seen!

Organised by the CIT Charity Committee, it was the night that 26 of our colleagues took to the stage of a full house at the Rochestown Park Hotel to dance the night away to raise money in aid of the Cork Cancer Care Centre . The audience, made up of friends, family and colleagues, were treated to a variety of dances from the Quickstep to the Mambo, Foxtrot, Twist, Swing, Cha Cha, Salsa, Jive and Rock 'n' Roll. The dancers were outstanding and the atmosphere was truly electric with the night itself raising €32,561 for the Cork Cancer Care Centre .

View Recording

23rd April 2021

10:00-12:30

Traveller Culture Awareness

Introduced By:

  • Leanne MCDonagh, Traveller Educational Coordinator, MTU Cork

Speakers:

  • Denise Baker, Community Health and Education Development Worker with the Traveller Community in North Cork

  • Cork Traveller Visibility Group TCAT Trainers

    • Mags O'Sullivan, TCAT

    • Breda O'Donoghue, TCAT

Description

White Irish Travellers are an Irish ethnic group, making up almost 1% of the Irish population. Travellers have their own unique culture which was based on travelling around the country. As a society Ireland needs to work in partnership with Travellers to address the issues that face the Traveller community, such as education, housing and health. There is a need for public services to respect the cultural and ethnic identity of Travellers when they access services. Less than 1% of the Traveller population progress to third level education.

The session was delivered in two parts as follows:

Part 1:

Denise Baker, a CIT postgraduate, whose thesis was on traveller education and who works with the Traveller community presented her research findings.

Part 2:

Traveller Cultural Awareness Training (TCAT) was delivered by Traveller Community Workers who have been trained in facilitation skills to deliver the programme. The aims of the TCAT programme are:

  • To raise awareness of Traveller issues
  • To provide information on Traveller culture and how this impacts on educational opportunities
  • To identify the main barriers experienced by Travellers in accessing education
  • To identify ways of moving forward to improve access and uptake of education

View Recording

23rd April 2021

13:00-14:00

Women's Health - Breast Cancer Awareness

Introduced By:

  • Liz Barrett, Human Resources, MTU Cork

Speaker:

Description

Cancer has overtaken heart disease as the most common cause of death in Ireland. Stopping cancer before it starts and detecting it early are the keys to survival.

The goal of this session was to raise awareness amongst women and men of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer so as to increase the chances of early detection. The process around how to self-examine correctly is outlined in an effort to encourage breast self-awareness and raise awareness of Breast Cancer.

Breast Cancer Ireland - Education & Awareness

26th April 2021

11:00-12:00

Age is just a number

Introduced By:

  • Monica Moisuc, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, MTU Cork

Speakers:

  • Dr Sarah Davis - Entrepreneurship at 65 Beyond.

  • Dr Donagh Davern - Generational Differences in the Workplace.
  • Dr Barry O'Connor, President Emeritus, CIT.

Description

Diversity in the workplace has become a popular topic of conversation in recent years, as more progressive movements and views have permeated society and culture. At this point, the need for and benefits of more workplace diversity regarding gender, race and sexual orientation has been well documented. However, age is one dimension of diversity that is equally important in a learning and working environment.

This event celebrated “Age” and offered an insight into generational differences while featuring inspiring talks and experiences of successful MTU professionals. By removing the lens of age as a way to view and label individuals, you can shift the focus to their abilities, skills, experience, and knowledge, where it belongs.

View Recording

27th April 2021

13:00-14:00

Born this Way: Exploring Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation

Introduced By:

  • Maria Nugent, Careers Advisor, Student Services

Speakers:

  • Noah Halpin, Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)

  • Steph Fogarty, former CIT student and Ms Gay Ireland 2018

  • Konrad Im, former CIT student and Mr Gay Ireland 2016

  • Sebastian Beausang, MTU Student

Description

For decades, “born this way” has been the rallying cry of the mainstream LGBTQI+ rights movement, a simple slogan cited as the basis for both political change and cultural acceptance. LGBTQI+ rights advocates used it to make the case for legal equality.

In this session, we heard from members of the LGBTQI+ community about their experiences of exclusion and non-inclusion in their day to day lives and particularly in the higher education sector.

View Recording

28th April 2021

10:00-11:30

“Text me when you get home”: A Consent/Sexual Harassment Seminar

Introduced By:

  • Ellen O’Shea, Athena SWAN Administrator, MTU Cork

  • Vicky O’Sullivan, General Manager, MTU Cork Students Union

Speakers:

  • Celine Griffin, Sexuality Educator at Sexuality Insights

  • Deirdre Betson, Manager of SHAREIreland.ie (Sexual Health and Relationships Education)

Description

Following the disappearance of Sarah Everard, and the news of her subsequent murder, a post by social media influencer Lucy Mountain with the green WhatsApp message on a white background simply reading “text me when you get home xx” went viral with many women taking to social media to share their personal stories about feeling scared and unsafe in public.

This workshop was an interactive 90-minute workshop dealing with the following topics:

  • What is consent, the law and consent?
  • What are the barriers and things that help communicate consent?
  • How to give consent and skills for resisting pressure?
  • Sexual harassment, what it looks and sounds like?
  • What to do if you witness /are being harassed?
  • Where to get support?

View Recording

29th April 2021

19:00-20:00

Music Bingo – EDI Special

An opportunity for all music and bingo fans to get their card, listen for their favourite songs and win some prizes!

30th April 2021

11:00-12:00

In My Shoes: The Migrant & Refugee Perspective

Introduced By:

  • Mary Burke, Athena SWAN, MTU Kerry

Speakers:

  • Fiona Finn, CEO Nasc
  • Izzeddeen Alkarajeh, Izz Café
  • Xuenan Liu & Harald Ruppert
  • Mayrinfer Zambrano

Description

Ireland’s reception system for asylum seekers is known as Direct Provision. Under the Direct Provision system, people are accommodated across the country in communal institutional centres or former hotel style settings. The vast majority of the centres are managed on a for-profit basis by private contractors.

In this session, we heard from Fiona Finn , CEO of Nasc, about the work of Nasc and we also heard from two of Nasc’s clients about their stories and the challenges they have faced, because of living in Direct Provision.

In addition, we were treated to a short Palestinian cookery demonstration from Izz and Eman’ Alkarajeh, who previously spent time in Direct Provision on arrival in Ireland but have since leaving opened the amazing Izz Café in Cork City!

View Recording

30th April 2021

12:00-13:00

A Healthy MTU: striving for a healthy, diverse and inclusive University

Introduced By:

  • Liz Barrett, Human Resources, MTU Cork

Presented By:

  • Andrea Bickerdike, Lecturer, Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies, MTU Cork

  • Dr. Cian O’ Neill, Head of Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies, MTU Cork
  • Joan Dineen, Lecturer, Sport, Leisure and Childhood Studies, MTU Cork

Description

The World Health Organisation defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. In direct alignment with this holistic ethos, ‘A Healthy MTU’ (AHMTU) is a campus health promotion initiative that aims to maximise the health and wellbeing of all MTU students, staff and indeed the extended university community. To date, the initiative has been informed by a designated programme of research that has endeavoured to investigate the complex determinants of health within university settings.

The overarching purpose of this event was to challenge traditional models of health, and to discuss the inextricable links that exist between health, education, social equity, inclusion, organisational cultures and broader societal determinants. The event encompassed an overview of empirical evidence that has been gathered to date by the AHMTU Research Team, pertaining specifically to the health and wellbeing of MTU staff. In addition, the event aimed to challenge attendees to consider the international ‘Healthy University’ movement, and its aligned initiatives such as AHMTU, as a powerful, synergistic force to contribute towards the creation of a more diverse and inclusive higher education landscape.

View Recording

30th April 2021

13:00-13:30

Close of EDI Awareness Programme 2021

Introduced By:

  • Professor Margaret Linehan, Head of School of Humanities, MTU Cork

Description

A time to reflect on some of the learning gained from MTU’s EDI Programme 2021, followed by a few thank yous and then sharing of some good new for the forthcoming academic year with the launch of the new MTU Period Dignity Initiative for September 2021 by:

  • Dermot Barry, Technical Officer, MTU Cork
  • Cian O’Driscoll, Vice President Welfare, MTU Cork Students Union

A time to reflect on some of the learning gained from MTU’s EDI Programme 2021, followed by a few thank yous and then sharing of some good new for the forthcoming academic year with the launch of the new MTU Period Dignity Initiative for September 2021 by:

  • Dermot Barry, Technical Officer, MTU Cork
  • Cian O’Driscoll, Vice President Welfare, MTU Cork Students Union

View Recording

References

  • National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 (Hunt Report). Dublin: Department of Education and Skills.
  • National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education, 2015-2019. Dublin: Higher Education Authority.

 

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