Skip to main content

Advisors: How to promote Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access within Dance Marathon

In response to the nation-wide protests against racism and inequality, many of us are asking ourselves, “What can I do to make a difference in my community?”  Students, many of whom are having their eyes opened to systemic racism and oppression for the first time, are beginning to engage in critical reflection to identify personal biases and systemic causes of oppression on their campuses.  As advisors, we hold a responsibility to engage our students in discussions around social justice and help them create change.

Part of that change must come from our Dance Marathon programs.  At CMN Hospitals, we want all students, participants, donors, supporters, visitors, committee members, and Miracle Families to feel welcome as part of the Miracle Network Dance Marathon movement.  There is more that we can do to make sure we are creating a welcoming environment that truly encourages campus-wide engagement for everyone to feel like they belong.

Below are some actions that your Dance Marathon program can use to promote inclusivity, diversity, equity, and access (I.D.E.A.) within its leadership, programming, and recruitment efforts.  While not an all-inclusive list, we hope that this will be a starting point for you to engage with your students and take real steps toward a better future together.

Complete a diversity audit of your leadership, teams, and participants.  Look at the people and organizations involved with your Dance Marathon and ask, “What student populations are not represented here?”  We know that it’s not enough to send an email and create a promo code for a new organization to join Dance Marathon.  As advisors, we must coach students to reach out to these groups and make specific plans to get involved and support one another’s programming this year.  Now more than ever, it’s important to hold students accountable to these goals and follow up on them throughout the year.

Attend trainings and events with a focus on diversity and inclusion.  Because Social Justice and Inclusion are a Core Competency of NASPA and ACPA, university staff are often inundated with invitations to on-campus and virtual workshops and training for a variety of topics related to I.D.E.A.  If these are open to students, share those invitations with your DM team and encourage them (enthusiastically) to attend!  If no such training exists on your campus, connect with staff in student affairs or multicultural student services to collaborate on a new training program for student organizations.  Additionally, you can empower students to lead in their own learning by offering suggested readings and activities for individual reflection.

Reduce or make your event registration fee optional to increase access to Dance Marathon.  For many students, a $10 or $20 registration fee might be financial barrier to participating in campus activities.  Reducing or waiving your registration fee opens the door for more students to get involved and support your local CMN Hospital! (Remember, it is still vitally important to steward and engage your participants once they’re registered for your event.)

Examine your messaging, language, and imagery.  Work to ensure that your Dance Marathon program is welcoming to all by using inclusive messaging, language, and imagery throughout the year.  Social media profiles, event posters, and participant emails are just a few of the many platforms where we can create an inclusive and welcoming presence.  The D&I Language-Imagery Guide is a great tool to use as a starting point.

Diversify your year-round and in-event programming.  Does your organization do the same events year after year?  Have the same entertainers been coming to your Dance Marathon since it was founded?  Consider changing things up and adding some new elements to appeal to a more diverse audience.  There’s nothing wrong with having traditions, but they should be evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that they are culturally sensitive, relevant to your cause, and appropriate for your target audience.