Diversity & Inclusion and its Importance on UND’s Campus
There have been some recent changes to the composition of the Division of Student Affairs. As of February of this year, we are delighted to have the majority of the departments from Diversity & Inclusion back under our umbrella! Diversity & Inclusion is comprised of American Indian Student Services, International Center (continues to report to the Vice President for Academic Affairs), Multicultural Programs and Services, the Pride Center and the Women’s Center.
As some of you may recall, many of these departments reported to the Vice President for Student Affairs previously and I truly believe having them rejoin Student Affairs aligns with our divisional values and our unwavering commitment to service to all of our students. Diversity and inclusivity are two of the core values of UND’s Strategic Plan and to have the staff from these areas at our Student Affairs Council meetings as well as divisional events, assists us in ensuring we are offering the most beneficial resources and providing the best service to our students of underrepresented minority populations.
We are celebrating Time Out Week this week and so I have asked my colleague and Associate Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion, Sandra Mitchell, to guest post for this blog entry to speak a little about the theme for Time Out Week.
Hawks are clan animals in some American Indian cultures. There are several tribes throughout the United States with Hawk Clans (families) including the Chippewa, the Hopi, the Menominee, the Huron and Iroquois tribes, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico. It is said that when this majestic bird enters one’s life, it is time to focus on what is ahead and prepare for leadership. This symbol is an encouragement to pay attention to what is around us and fly higher. How fitting that this symbol in American Indian culture is now the symbol for the University of North Dakota!
This week is UND’s annual Time Out Week, an event that features speakers, entertainment, workshops and other activities to learn about American Indian culture. I hope that you will take the opportunity to support the students in UNDIA and ISA for this long-standing event. The theme is “resilience,” a word also often associated with the hawk in American Indian culture and a word that certainly has significance to us as Student Affairs staff. All students face situations that test their resilience. For minoritized students however, these tests are often magnified by being in an unfamiliar and often unwelcoming environment that was not “designed with them in mind.”
We are very fortunate to have staff members like our two Everyday Superheroes Stacey Borboa-Peterson, Director of Multicultural Programs and Services, and Courtney Souvannasacd, Program Coordinator for American Indian Student Services on our team. Each day these individuals work tirelessly to help students of color to be successful at UND. Both of these superheroes show students, as well as faculty and staff, what it means to truly support students as they navigate both the ivory tower and its shadows. Whether it is guiding students to appropriate academic resources or providing a much-needed listening ear when feeling isolated as one of few students of color on campus, each of these individuals help students to build resiliency. Like the hawk, they help students focus on what is ahead and encourage them to fly higher.
Let’s go Fighting Hawks!