Growing Ally Days
The university’s inaugural Ally Days was held in Ives Hall this spring as a fun way to engage the Cornell community about connecting with marginalized groups.
“Beyond all expectations” is how ILR Associate Director for Diversity and Inclusion Cornell Woodson described the two-day educational event, which featured former NFL player, Wade Davis, executive director of You Can Play.
Davis’s talk was about recognizing that many people do not practice “self love.”
Woodson said, “In order for us to love other people and therefore be allies to them we have to love ourselves.”
“It was awesome, and he was so down to earth. For him, it was about the conversation and engaging in dialogue.”
Woodson said he was inspired to create the program at Cornell based on his previous work at New York University.
“We had a program called Ally Week. It was a great way to engage the community and have conversations about what it means to be an ally,” Woodson said. “We all play a role in dismantling and ending systems of oppression.”
Woodson originally believed that Ally Days at Cornell would involve only the ILR community.
“I shared the idea at the university’s diversity communities meeting. Then, all of a sudden, emails started flooding in offering help and support.”
The event engaged many new members of the Cornell community that are not usually reached by diversity and inclusion efforts, Woodson said.
“What I loved most about the event was that it was not the same people,” Woodson said. “I do these same types of events throughout the year, and it is always the same faces every single time, and there were so many new faces.”
Woodson said he sees opportunities to grow Ally Day as the energy around social justice continues to increase.
“Incoming ILRies are focusing so much more on social justice and not just in its traditional roles, but in finance, law and everywhere,” Woodson said.
“They want to figure out how to bring this more mainstream and I believe that programming like Ally Days will become even bigger because of the passion for social justice from our incoming freshman class.”