Shyam K. Sriram (he/his) is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY. He is a national expert on refugee resettlement and is writing the first American textbook on the topic. He is an alumnus of Purdue University where he was initiated into the Brotherhood of Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and previously taught at Gonzaga University, Butler University, the College of Charleston, Georgia State University, and Morehouse College. Shyam is a speaker for Greek University where he focuses on cultural appropriation, suicide prevention, and DEI leadership, recruitment and retention.
Dr. Shyam Sriram's Bio
Every fall, like clockwork, college students and Greeks across the United States face national ridicule or scrutiny due to students wearing offensive Halloween costumes or they make bad decisions on their social event/mixer themes. At the heart of this dilemma is a fundamental lack of knowledge about diversity, cultural norms, and respect for traditional dress. This session will challenge you to think more deeply about why some of the choices we make when it comes to event programming crosses the line from appropriate to appropriation. You will leave this workshop with an improved understanding of how to maintain some of your chapter traditions while also creating new ones that engage diverse perspectives for Halloween and other events in a more respectful and inclusive manner.
PRESENTATION: My Culture is Not Your Costume: Creating Inclusive Social Events and Experiences
- Establish guidelines for your fraternity or sorority chapter or campus to hold events and parties that honor cultural differences.
- Explore the roots of cultural appropriation through an understanding of blackface and minstrelsy.
- Evaluate how our implicit biases affect how we evaluate cultural practices different from ours.
The biggest challenge facing the Greek system nationally is how to meet the pressing and urgent demands of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Chapters will think more critically not only about minority recruitment, but something that is even more neglected: inspiring our Greek brothers and sisters of color to become leaders. Drawing on the work of Dr. Hahrie Han, this session will break down the best research about how minority leadership makes organizations better and the difference between what Han calls transactional mobilizing and transformational organizing.
PRESENTATION: Somewhere I Belong: How to Recruit and Retain (Minority) Chapter Leaders
- Unpack the terminology and distinguish between equality, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- Role-play and collaborate in teams to self-assess how we recruit and retain minority students.
- Design a leadership training agenda that incorporates chapter resources and member education to engineer more ways for minority students to become chapter leaders.
This session will help you develop your political potential as a contributor to American civic life and give you the leadership skills needed to turn your sorority or fraternity chapter into a site of genuine, cogent political engagement (all the time and not just every four years). Moving beyond debates about individual politics and opinions, this session will unite attendees to create the unity that the United States was founded upon. You will leave this session with a fresh and unique perspective on how to get your chapter members involved in local, state, national, and international issues in a way that makes our houses sites of cross-party political mobilization and genuine activism.
PRESENTATION: Political Activism 101: Harnessing Our Greek Chapters and Members for Effective Social Justice and Political Influence
- Construct new ways of interpreting political participation through activities that give everyone a voice.
- Dialogue with attendees at different schools to challenge and offer support about how to make social justice and politics a normal part of chapter operations.
- Develop educational materials for each chapter that highlight unique strengths that support the political needs of different colleges and universities.
"Shyam spoke at our National Convention and made a lasting impression on all of the undergraduate and graduate attendees. Even in the virtual setting, Shyam was able to quickly cut though the minutia and discuss the deeper topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a Greek member and an advisor for a Greek organization, Shyam brings a unique perspective to this field."
"Dr. Sriram’s program allowed myself and my friends to go into Halloween and everyday life knowing what is cultural appropriation and what is acceptable. The program is wonderful for large groups and college campuses everywhere, especially on a predominantly white campus that may not have had the knowledge prior to Dr. Sriram’s lecture. I loved the way he presented the information and allowed for a safe space for questions and comments. I would recommend this program to anyone wanting to learn more about what is acceptable and not acceptable when it comes to costumes or everyday dress!"