Winter is here and so is the next issue of the Division of Institutional Equity & Diversity's e-newsletter. Read about the division's activities, coverage of past events, and upcoming programs.
Dallas Dinner Table organizes various small dinners across the Greater Dallas area one night a year where participants share experiences and perspectives on race in a casual setting through a structured and facilitated discussion. For the first time ever, the Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity will host two Dallas Dinner Table tables of 10 guests to participate in this important and authentic dialogue about race relations. If you have questions about Dallas Dinner Table, please view their website and be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. If your question is not answered you may contact UNT’s Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Teresita Hurtado Ramos at firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited and is first come first served! Registration is required on the Dallas Dinner Table website.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion continued its Unlikely Allies in the Academy Series on November 13th with Part III: Unlikely Allies: Creating Space for Difficult Conversations & Opportunities for Cross-Cultural and Cross Racial Conversations. The event was co-presented by Dr. Theresa Torres, Associate Professor of Latinx and Latin American Studies at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and author of the Unlikely Allies in the Academy: Women of Color and White Women in Conversation book chapter “A Latina Testimonio: Challenges as an Academic, Issues of Difference, and a Call for Solidarity with White Female Academics” in which she details her experiences of exclusion as a Latina faculty member at a predominantly white institution through a critical race theory framework. Dr. Torres was joined in her talk by her colleague Lisa McCarty, an educator and activist committed to building capacity within schools, organizations, and communities in restorative practices, equity leadership, social justice frameworks, and program development, implementation and evaluation.
This semester’s program provided participants an opportunity to understand privilege and allyship through self-reflection, an awareness of the benefits of embracing tension in efforts to build cross cultural relationships, and an examination of when and how to act when faced with opportunities to address oppression and exclusion. The program has inspired participants to examine their own spheres of influence for opportunities to act, and the office has responded to multiple queries after the event from UNT units seeking guidance in applying the session’s principles to their program areas.
“I found [the] talk the best I have ever experienced relating to understanding privilege and the responsibilities of each human being,” said Associate Dean of the College of Engineering Dr. Nandika D’Souza. “The topic did not have a defined ‘bad guy/good guy’ and cause defensive or guilt ridden dialogue. Awesome! I can’t thank you enough.”
The Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity began the series in the fall of 2016 with Unlikely Allies in the Academy: Women of Color and White Women in Conversation” book editor, Dr. Karen Dace. The series aims to feature the work of the book’s contributors whose essays provide varied perspectives on issues of identity, privilege, and action towards inclusion among women in higher education, and apply them to UNT.
The Division kicked off its new Denton Community Television public affairs show, “Social Justice and Community Engagement,” with its first guests in November. The program’s goal is to align the work of the Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity and others across the university with those of the City of Denton to encourage citizens to engage with inclusion and equity initiatives. Hosted by Director of Diversity and Inclusion Shani Barrax Moore, the inaugural show featured Unlikely Allies in the Academy speakers Dr. Theresa Torres and Lisa McCarty, and Denton Together Coalition Co-Chair Sheryl English. Produced by the Mayborn College of Journalism, the show will air on Denton Community Television and feature new content throughout the year. For more information or to submit content ideas, contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Diversity.Inclusion@unt.edu.
Last year, Housing and Residence Life embarked upon a journey to make its organizational culture more inclusive. They began meeting with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to determine the best approach to building inclusive competencies among its staff, and UNT’s inaugural Inclusion, Equity, and Community Building was born. The five module series was tailored to their specific needs and desired outcomes, and included approaches to critical incidents, discussions regarding bias awareness, privilege, and inclusive language, and an assessment of perceived and actual organizational culture. Delivered in phases, the sessions were made a requirement of all Housing and Residence Life staff by their Executive Director Gina Vanacore and began in October of 2016 with live-in and live-in support staff such as assistant directors, community directors, assistant community directors, and graduate assistants. The series continued this fall with departmental leadership participating in concurrent cohorts with other live-in staff, and ended with a session bringing them together that helped them chart a course to continue these efforts to create a more multicultural organization. The remaining staff will be trained in the spring semester.
"Tent Talks" is a new Office of Diversity and Inclusion program providing the UNT community a safe space for facilitated impromptu dialogue on Library Mall and Discovery Park the first Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each month. It also provides an opportunity to build awareness about and promote engagement with Pride Alliance and Multicultural Center semester events. Participants are invited to respond to a prompt on a white board by writing a message, staying for conversation, or both. It provides an opportunity to collect and share multiple perspectives about a range of topics, including Halloween costumes and cultural appropriation, Trans* inclusion and the bathroom ban, and ways to become a bridge to inclusion. Tent Talks’ presence on the Library Mall has also contributed to the exploration of new programs and initiatives based upon student perspectives.
Since The Office of Diversity and Inclusion's interracial relationship panel in September, a group of students and staff have begun meeting biweekly to discuss the creation of a Mixed Race/Ethnicity student group on campus. To engage the campus, they posed a related question during “Tent Talks” in the Library Mall asking multiracial people, "What are you...most proud of?" The group is also open to all students, and specifically created for those who are multiracial, who have been transracilally adopted, in an interracial relationship and/or allies for the unique needs of the Multiheritage community. The students plan on proposing the unofficial "Mixed Greens" student organization to be official Fall 2018. Please contact Teresita Hurtado Ramos at Teresita@unt.edu if interested in being involved in the group.
The Multicultural Center kicked off Native American Heritage Month with a Powwow celebration from the Anoli Dance Troupe. The dance troupe represented various tribes in the United States and the performance highlighted exhibition dancing of powwow traditions and styles.
The Multicultural Center, in collaboration with the University Program Council (UPC), hosted its annual 'Day of The Dead' celebration which focuses on gatherings of family and friends who build altars honoring the deceased using their favorite foods, beverages and possessions. The program also aimed to provide awareness of the cultural relevance of the holiday in Latinx culture.
UNT proudly participated in the national day to celebrate first-generation college students on Nov. 8 with its first annual First-Generation Celebration, hosted by the Division of Student Affairs, the Multicultural Center and the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program.
In celebration of the 52nd anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) decided to nationally celebrate first-generation college students on campuses across the U.S. Nationally, it is estimated that 50% of college students are first generation, and 89% of low-income first-generation students leave colleges within six years without a degree and more than 25% leave after their first year.
To highlight first-generation voices at the event, UNT students, staff and faculty shared their personal experiences, with many noting the difficulties first-generation students face in filling out college applications and complex FAFSA forms and paying tuition.
The Multicultural Center and Pride Alliance have partnered to host the second Fall Multicultural Graduation ceremony combining those events typically held in the spring: the Pride Alliance’s Lavender graduation for queer-identifying students, and the Multicultural Center’s People of Nia, and Raza graduation ceremonies for students of African and Latinx descent. Our offices collaborate with numerous departments, and student groups, to coordinate cultural and identity- based graduation celebration ceremonies that complement the University's commencement celebrations. These cultural celebrations acknowledge the value and uniqueness of underrepresented student experiences and serve to commemorate and highlight the accomplishments of individuals within their familial and cultural context.
The Self-Care Series is an ongoing series of programs from the Pride Alliance and the Counseling and Testing Center in which students learn and share how they take care of themselves and recharge from an identity-based perspective. Students discuss the challenges of self-care in the face of national discrimination and violence such as the Pulse Massacre or trans-exclusionary bathroom bills proposed across the nation and in Texas. In addition to skills gained, students create self-care aids such as guided reflection journals, introspective masks, and boxes of self-care and calming supplies. The self-care series will continue in Spring 2017 in collaboration with the Counseling and Testing Center as well as the UNT Rock Wall.
National Coming Out Day is a unique opportunity to celebrate the experiences of Queer and Trans People who have “come out of the closet” or disclosed their identity or identities to peers, mentors, or family members. The Pride Alliance adds to this celebration the honoring of experiences of people who, for whatever reason, have not come out. We do not come out once, but repeatedly, as the broader society operates under the assumption that people are both heterosexual and cisgender. National Coming Out Day is marked by the signing of a door provided by GLAD: UNT’s Queer Alliance. Students, faculty, staff, and community members sign the door with words of inspiration, messages of hope, humor, their names, or stories of their experiences. This year the campus community had the unique opportunity to share what National Coming Out Day means to them through snapchat submissions, some of which are pictured below.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Race is the culmination of a year-long discussion and production process that involved African-American and white students and professors in UNT’s Department of Communication Studies. What began as a set of informal dinners, in which they slowly, haltingly, and gradually told personal stories about themselves, their families, and their histories with race, has resulted in an original, collaboratively written and directed production that combines personal narratives, image work, and adaptations of literature. The production reveals what they learned on this journey about the way the discourses of race have impacted American culture generally, and their lives specifically. The production was initially presented in the Blackbox Theater in October with a subsequent performance in November. As the topic is congruent with the 2018 conference theme, the production will be presented as part of the February 22nd Equity and Diversity Conference.