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Multicultural Learning Alliance

Multicultural Learning Alliance

The Multicultural Learning Alliance (MLA) provides a low-pressure environment so you can develop the knowledge, awareness, and skills needed to effectively engage in diverse spaces. If you are seeking a solid foundation for starting your DEI journey, join the MLA!

Why Join the Multicultural Learning Alliance?

The Multicultural Learning Alliance is for coaches who are early in their DEI journey and want to establish a strong and effective groundwork. Our focus is to help you learn the fundamental concepts about diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as discuss ways to address the unique challenges that face students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.

By joining the MLA, you will:

  • Develop multicultural knowledge, awareness, and skills necessary to effectively and successfully interact in diverse spaces.
  • Identify instances of inequity in speech and debate communities.
  • Recognize how personal assumptions, preconceived notions, and biases can cause a person to communicate (verbally, nonverbally, environmentally) in ways that are harmful to others.
  • Develop tangible strategies to create and promote inclusive and equitable spaces within your own teams and the speech and debate community.

2023-2024 Schedule

Session Structure

Sessions Two through Six will begin with an optional 30-minute review of the previous session. This is especially helpful for anyone who misses a session and wants to catch up.

Each session will be structured in the following way:

  • Housekeeping items
  • Session content
  • Discussion (centered on converting content into action)

Session 1: Establishing the MLA

December 7th at 7:00 p.m. CT

This kickoff session introduces the fundamental concepts of the Multicultural Learning Alliance. As a group, we will discuss the program’s mission, vision, and goals; establish guidelines and expectations; and set personal goals for participation in the MLA. Participants will engage in dialogue designed to introduce themselves and share lived experiences. 

Session 2: Understanding Multicultural Competence

January 24th at 7:00 p.m. CT

Multicultural Competence is the knowledge, awareness, and skills needed to work with others who are culturally different from self in meaningful, relevant, and productive ways. In this session, we will discuss the characteristics of multicultural competence, potential barriers, and ways to learn, think, and do more.

Session 3: Discussing Diverse Lived Experiences

February 21st at 7:00 p.m. CT

This session explores how people’s lived experiences differ greatly from one to another and how they affect participation in speech and debate. We will discuss varying power dynamics and biases through dialogue and activities.

Session 3 has been canceled. Check back here for potential rescheduling!

Session 4: Unconscious Bias

March 20th at 7:00 p.m. CT

In this session, we will learn what unconscious bias is, how it functions, and why we have it. We will also discuss the consequences of bias in the speech and debate community and ways to navigate it.

Session 5: Understanding Microaggressions

April 17th at 7:00 p.m. CT

Microaggressions are small, subtle comments that often cause considerable harm to others. In this session, we will discuss the different types of microaggressions, the magnitude of their effects, and how we can address them in the different roles we play in speech and debate. 

Session 6: Where Do We Go From Here? Creating DEI Action Plans

May 15th at 7:00 p.m. CT

How can each of us be an ally? How do we begin making changes that lead to a better experience for everyone in speech and debate? Through self-assessments, we will identify action steps for our individual teams, local competitions, our preparation for the National Tournament, and future seasons.

Conversation Guidelines

These guidelines will be in place for all of our discussions during MLA sessions

Listen Actively

Be respectful of others when they are talking. Stay mentally and physically present, and please be open to what others say (even when you disagree). 

Be Mindful When Communicating

Speak from your own experience. Avoid using sweeping, generalizing statements and use “I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you”. Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks. Be conscious of body language and nonverbal responses — they can be as disrespectful as words.

Care. Don’t Compete

Every session should be about personal growth, not comparison. If you are a little further along, listen more than talk, and encourage others. We are not here to show off or make others feel bad.

Embrace Calling In

Calling people out assumes the worst. Calling in invites conversation, compassion, and care. We shouldn’t ignore moments that harm, slight, or damage, but we shouldn’t exaggerate them. Let’s critique ideas, not people.

Be Validating

We all come to these sessions at different points in our DEI journeys. Please refrain from invalidating someone’s story with your own spin. Rather, share your story and experience. The goal is not to agree but to gain a deeper understanding.

Offer Solutions

If you disagree with a proposed idea or see a problem, offer a solution. 

Stay On Point and On Time

Respect the group’s time and keep comments brief and to the point.