Berkeley College Students Develop Cultural Diversity and Sexual Harassment Awareness Seminar in White Plains

Thursday, March 5, 2020
Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations




Photos, left to right, above:  Robert Miller, Berkeley College Campus Operating Officer, opens the “Modern Training for Modern Times” seminar by thanking the students, speakers and guests for their active participation. “Nothing is more important than the well-being of our community,” he said. Berkeley College student event developers Sherquan Jn Baptiste of Killingly, CT (left), and Kayla Gray of White Plains, NY, pause for a photo with speaker Shepard Verbas, Assistant Director of Programs and Services, The LOFT LGBTQ Community Center (right). “The use of certain pronouns can be affirming and gender expansive … it is an inclusionary practice,” Verbas said. Susan Carroll, Esq., Director of Training, Outreach and Education, Pace Women’s Justice Center, addressed the topic of Intimate Partner Violence, and Sharon McLennon-Wier, PhD, Berkeley College Director of Disability Services, presented information about Disability Diversity.

Two Berkeley College students in White Plains, NY, Kayla Gray of White Plains, NY, and Sherquan Jn Baptiste of Killingly, CT, developed a seminar to a raise awareness about cultural diversity and sexual harassment. “We are at a time not only in history, but in our lives, where we all could learn more about each other, learn to be more inclusive and accepting,” Ms. Gray said. “With ignorance, whether intentional or not, comes destruction,” Ms. Jn Baptiste said. “Every topic discussed today is a cornerstone of these realities … We cannot turn back the destruction, but we can have a foothold in deconstructing the pillars of ignorance.” Modern Training for Modern Times included several presenters from the communities of Westchester County and Berkeley College, who addressed various topics at the seminar held at Berkeley College on February 28, 2020. The audience included students, staff and area employer representatives.

“Did you know that all of these artists, including Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Adele and NFL retiree Rob Gronkowski, all have experienced living with a disability?” asked Sharon McLennon-Wier, PhD, Berkeley College Director of Disability Services, who spoke about Disability Diversity. “Disability is a fluid process,” she said. “You can acquire it or be born with it.”

Susan Carroll, Esq., Director of Training, Outreach and Education, Pace Women’s Justice Center, shared information about her legal work, outreach and education efforts concerning intimate partner violence (IPV). “There are many reasons why people do not report these incidents,” Ms. Carroll said. “Reasons include concerns that calling the police may make the situation worse and that no law enforcement action will result; if the victim/survivor or family member has immigration concerns, there may be fear that any intervention may affect their status; concerns about economic support, custody concerns with children, housing, cultural or family considerations; feeling shameful, or, they may be unaware of the community resources available to assist them. Nonetheless, as a community, we want people to realize there are options, and we want people to report incidents to the police so the entire community can benefit.”

Ms. Carroll reported that stalking is also a common offense and is routinely a part of the dynamic for victims of domestic violence or intimate partner violence. It often is an indicator of other types of violence and has been linked to assault and intimate partner homicide, she said.

In terms of IPV awareness campaigns in the workplace, suggestions include creating a DV/IPV policy, then training and designating an employee in the human resources area who would address these issues.  She said the campaign would also help keep the workplace free of threats so that employees understand the employer will efficiently and effectively respond to threats and potential violence, and make resources readily and easily available in a confidential manner.

Linda Fenstermaker, Regional Director, New York State Division of Human Rights, White Plains, oversees the investigation of complaints filed in Westchester, Orange, Dutchess, Rockland and Putnam counties. She explained that the Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, credit and lending, places of public accommodations, non-sectarian educational institutions, non-sectarian education and schools. The Division is an alternative to the court system in that anyone who believes that they have been subjected to discrimination under the Human Rights Law may file a complaint. They do not need legal representation to proceed with such a complaint, and there is no filing fee to initiate an investigation by the Division.  You can learn more about the Division by visiting its website at

The topic of LGBTQ+ Awareness, presented by Shepard Verbas, Assistant Director, Programs and Services, The LOFT LGBTQ Community Center, White Plains, educated the audience about the importance of understanding the diversity of gender and sexuality to create a more inclusive society. The conversation included how significant the sharing of personal gender pronouns as an ally to LGBTQ communities can be. “When we learn to shift our perspective away from a binary system of thinking, we can begin to embrace diversity in expression and identity, and build an inclusionary practice,” Verbas said.

About Berkeley College
Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College has campuses in Midtown Manhattan and White Plains, NY, as well as in Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 5,700 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for seven consecutive years. The website address is

The mission of Berkeley College is to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers.

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