Advisors, Dahlia Case and Breanne Tcheng, have been in advising roles at Berkeley for less than three years but are already impacting the advising community. As co-presenters at this past year's Stay Day, they led a discussion on microagressions1 and provided important tips to think about.

Was there a specific reason you chose this topic to present at Stay Day?

We chose this topic because we have been covering it extensively in our respective graduate programs. We felt a lot of the diversity workshops on campus were not addressing the uncomfortable interactions and so felt a need to bring the issue to light. We wanted to share our knowledge, name, and give language to incidents that happen daily for many people.

What are your tips for combatting microaggression in the workplace?

We believe we all have a responsibility and a part to play in combating microaggressions in the workplace. We're all human and we're far from perfect, so if you commit a microaggression, take responsibility, manage your feelings of defensiveness, and reflect on how you can prevent the same microaggression from happening in the future. If your colleagues are open to it, follow up and don't be afraid to have open and honest conversation! If you have had a microaggression committed towards you, we recommend that you find a support network - whether that be colleagues, a mentor, or a friend. If you feel comfortable, make an effort to share about your experiences with colleagues, and ask objective questions (ex. What did you mean by that?) For allies and advocates, we recommend that you reflect on your own values, biases, and assumptions to understand how they may be impacting your interactions with others in the workplace. Ask yourself - are your policies providing services to meet the varying needs of our diverse student populations on campus? And lastly, remember that intent doesn't always equal impact. Be forgiving of yourself and others, because we're all learning!

What are your tips for combatting microagressions when advising students?

Reflect on how your intentional/unintentional actions and words may be affecting the students you serve. Using the tips above, addressing microaggressions when advising can help create a more inclusive and welcoming space for students.

When you gave the presentation, were their other tips the audience shared about their experiences with microagressions?

It was clear from our presentation that our campus community has experienced or committed microaggressions in one way, shape, or form. This was eye-opening for us because we recognized that 1) this is a real issue in our workplaces, and 2) there is a need for space for open and honest dialogue. We cannot begin to address the issue, until we give it a name and a platform for discourse. We hope that this is just the start of many invigorating and fruitful conversations for the larger Berkeley community!

How did you prepare for the presentation?

We wanted to have a presentation that was both practical and theoretical. While it was important to define microagressions, we wanted to spend the bulk of our time on experiential learning and strategies.

Do you have any other tips for the advising community?

When you see something, when you hear something, say something.  The more we are afraid and hesitant to call attention to microaggresions, they more they will continue to occur. If we all do our part, the work will get done.

1Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership (from Diversity in the Classroom, UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development, 2014).  

Dahlia Case

Breanne Tcheng