During Week Three’s strategic plan and related information sessions, community members engaged with top administrators on issues of diversity and accessibility at Chautauqua Institution.
At Monday’s IDEA — inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility — Listening Session, hosted by Shannon Rozner, chief of staff and vice president of strategic initiatives, attendees narrowed focus on the Institution’s lack of digital accessibility.
Chautauqua raised specific concerns about mobilizing technology — one of four cross-cutting imperatives that underscore the whole of the strategic plan — and older Chautauquans’ difficulty using some digital programs or functions. One woman suggested hosting Twitter workshops, as questions for lecturers are accepted on the platform, as well as on paper.
Institution President Michael E. Hill stressed the importance of technology as a medium to boost Chautauqua’s brand awareness and ease of access — both challenges identified by the Strategic Planning Working Group.
“We haven’t kept up with technology, and we haven’t figured out the best way to integrate our technology,” he said at Thursday’s Strategic Plan Information Session. “There are so many ways we can make accessing the Chautauqua experience easier if we simply, smartly invest in strategic technology.”
At both the information and listening sessions, concerns about age diversity were pinpointed.
“I love it when Chautauquans say ‘We would love young people to come, but quiet hours are at 10 p.m.,’ ” Hill said.
Board of Trustees Chair Jim Pardo said the lack of millennial Chautauquans hints at a larger issue of the changing nature of work and family structures.
Hill said this is being addressed, particularly with the Dr. Robert R. Hesse Welcome and Business Center in partnership with NOW Generation, an organization for Chautauquans ages 21 to 40.
To elevate this seemingly systematic issue, Chautauquans suggested creating more young-adult centric spaces — as part of the Campus Master Plan — income-qualified gate passes and offering more academic classes for late-high school or college-aged students.
Additionally, concerns were raised about the lack of diversity of political ideologies among community members. Suggestions were made to add Spanish or French to signs and closed captioning; indicate whether events are wheelchair accessible; and offer more scholarships and income-qualified gate passes.
The next IDEA Listening Session will be Tuesday; the next Strategic Plan Information Session will be Wednesday; and the next Master Plan Information Session will be Friday. All listening and information sessions start at 3:30 p.m. in the Hall of Christ.
Chautauquans can voice additional concerns or make comments at 150FWDfeedback.chq.org.