Health sciences class dances for diversity
4 mins read

Health sciences class dances for diversity

Dancing can be a way to exercise and have fun, but one health sciences class at the University of South Dakota is using dance in a different way — to spread awareness about diversity.

Sophomore McKinsey Kost is part of the professional communications health science class and will be one of fifty students dancing in a flash mob April 23 at noon in the Muenster University Center.

“I was honestly really excited about it. I thought it was cool,” Kost said. “As a health science major, you do a lot of service-learning. It’s something fun that we can all do together that was different.”

Laurie Lind, a health sciences instructor, said exposing students to diversity in the classroom is necessary when going into health care.

“We focus a lot in there on when you work with different patients how are you going to communicate, what are the components of communication, what are relationship-centered way to communicate with people,” Lind said. “Part of that is to recognize there’s diversity beyond race and ethnicity.”

Lind said she worked with the Voices of Discovery program in the Center for Diversity & Community and Office for Diversity to incorporate the diversity aspect in the course.

Colton Sierra will also be joining the flash mob by playing drums and singing music from Native American culture, Lind said.

Students in the class were required to attend a two-hour dialogue group of their choice for five weeks. All the intergroup dialogues examined diversity groups and how they are viewed in society.

Kost said she chose the gender identity group for her diversity session.

“Sometimes we watched short video clips to start conversations, but mainly we talked about the differences between boys and girls and how they’re treated in society and their roles in society,” Kost said.

Lind said it was great that students were learning about different diversity groups, but they weren’t applying the material. That’s how the idea for “action pieces” came about and from there the flash mob project, Lind said.

In the past, other action pieces students have done included creating an app, Facebook pages or videos.

Lind said at first some students were hesitant about being part of the flash mob, but she encouraged them to not only think outside the box, but also get outside the box.

“I really gently nudged and then I kind of pushed,” Lind said. “As we start it, they realize how much fun it will be.”

Lind said in all the years the Voices of Discovery program has been a part of these intergroup dialogues, her class is the only class to decide to put on an action piece afterwards.

“Nobody anywhere in the United States has ever followed up with the action piece,” Lind said. “I try to approach it that way with them. Why would you not want to be a part of history? Be a part of history. Be a part of something bigger than yourself or this classroom.”

Lind said she hopes at the end of the day, students understand they have a voice and they can use it, such as being part of the flash mob and dancing in the MUC.

“It will definitely catch people’s eyes when we do it,” Kost said.

First-year Micaela Frank is also taking the health sciences class and will be a part of the flash mob.

“It didn’t scare me as much as it did other people,” Frank said.

Frank was part of a women’s intragroup for her Voices of Discovery dialogue where they talked about women in society and how they are treated.

“It really opened my eyes, because I didn’t really think anything of it, how women are treated,” Frank said.

Frank said being a part of the class and the flash mob has helped her see how diverse campus is.

“It’s important to have inclusivity and be able to know that there are all kinds of people in this world,” Frank said. “Our flash mob is a good way of bringing everyone together to do something and it shows people that aren’t even in it how people from all different places can come together.”

(Photo: Members of a health sciences class practice a dance April 20 in the Andrew E. Lee Medical Building in preparation for an upcoming flash mob. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)