Susan Sandberg ’85, Alumni
Why are you serving on the Council on Equity and Inclusion?
Since beginning my career in Human Resources many years ago, I have been passionate about inclusion and diversity. I spent considerable time and energy on diversity-related projects and issues, whether based on race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Having recently retired, I was looking for a volunteer opportunity that would allow me to continue work in this area. I feel very fortunate to be a member of the Council on Equity and Inclusion, as it allows me to focus on two of my passions — diversity and St. Olaf.
What drives your interest in and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracist work?
I feel that it is a basic human right to be judged based on the strength of your character and, in the workplace, based on the skills you bring to your job. Things like the color of your skin, who you love, and how you worship should not matter. As a society, we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to reach that goal. And, because there are now laws that make it unlawful for you to make decisions based on some of these characteristics, much of the unlawful discrimination has become much more difficult to discern. It is very important to me to play a role, any role, in moving our society forward in this area.
When someone asks you how they can support this work on campus, what is your advice?
Learn as much as you can about diversity and inclusion, at both the macro and micro level. You are young and in college — this provides you with the perfect opportunity to soak in as much knowledge as you can about why this is so important in our society and what you can do about it. I can assure you that this knowledge will matter in your career and in your life. And, at a micro level, learn as much as you can from your fellow students who don’t look like you or have the same background as you or have the same belief systems as you. If you have an open mind and an open heart, you will learn a lot about why this is so important at the most basic human level.
What is your hope for the future of St. Olaf?
As an institution of higher learning, my hope is that St. Olaf provides an environment where all students, regardless of race, background, sexual orientation, belief system, etc., get an excellent education and have an incredible college experience. Similarly, I hope that St. Olaf provides the faculty and staff with an environment where they can thrive in their careers and provide an unparalleled experience to those they work with and those they serve. To make that happen, St. Olaf must provide a welcome, inclusive, and supportive environment for everyone associated with the college.