The Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity with keynote speakers Dr. D-L Stewart and Rosa Clemente.
2018 Keynote Speaker: Rosa Clemente
Our 2018 keynote speaker is Rosa Clemente, 2008 Green Party Vice Presidential candidate, community organizer, and journalist. From Harvard to prisons, Rosa has spent her life dedicated to scholar activism.
She is the president and founder of Know Thy Self Productions, which has produced four major community activism tours and consults on issues such as Hip-Hope activism, media justice, voter engagement among youth of color, third party politics, intercultural relations between Black and Latinx, immigrants’ rights as an extension of human rights, and universal healthcare.
She is a frequent guest on television, radio, and online media.
2018 Social Justice Speaker: Dr. Dafina-Lazarus (D-L) Stewart
Dr. Stewart (pronouns: he, him, his and they, them, theirs) is a professor in the School of Education and Tri-Director of the Student Affairs in Higher Education Program at Colorado State University. D-L is a scholar, educator, and activist focused on empowering and imagining futures that sustain and cultivate the learning, growth, and success of marginalized groups in U.S. higher education institutions.
Dr. Stewart’s work is motivated by an ethic of love grounded in justice and informed by an intersectional framework that recognizes both the lived experiences of individuals with multiple marginalities, as well as the material effects of interlocking systems of oppression.
Over the course of Dr. Stewart's17-year faculty career, they have focused most intently on issues of race and ethnicity, sexuality, and gender, as well as religion, faith, and spirituality in his research, teaching, and service to professional organizations and institutions across the nation.
Dr. Stewart is the author of over four dozen journal articles and book chapters, as well as either editor, coeditor, or author for three books covering multicultural student services, gender and sexual diversity of U.S. college students, and historical experiences of Black collegians in northern liberal arts colleges.
Dr. Stewart has also provided professional service and leadership to a number of scholarly and professional associations, most substantively through a variety of roles in ACPA—College Student Educators International, as well as for the Association for the Study of Higher Education, in which he led the Council on Ethnic Participation for three years. Dr. Stewart was named an ACPA Senior Scholar in March 2017.
The Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity supports and affirms efforts across the University that demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Association of American Colleges and Universities to which the University of North Texas belongs has created a framework for this commitment called Inclusive Excellence. Defined as the active process through which colleges and universities achieve excellence in learning, teaching, student development, institutional functioning, and engagement in local and global communities, this approach has become a model of connecting educational quality and inclusion efforts for universities across the country. As such, our Division created an Inclusive Excellence Award to recognize units who exemplify these qualities. This year’s Inclusive Excellence Award recipient is UNT’s Department of Housing and Residence Life.
Housing and Residence Life’s diversity, equity, and inclusion journey began in 2016 when Executive Director Gina Vanacore engaged the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to help assess the diversity, equity, and inclusion needs within the department for which she had recently taken leadership. Some of the concerns that emerged included a need to provide adequate time and space to address some of the identity and climate-based challenges within the department, and needing departmental, divisional, and Institutional Equity and Diversity’s support to help support their efforts to successfully create and sustain a climate of intentional inclusion within Housing and Residence Life. The work to address these opportunities began with the hiring of Dr. Tomás Sanchez as the Associate Director of Residence Life, who worked directly with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to create a strategy to engage in these efforts two new units that were created within the department: housing and residence life.
This strategy included Dr. Sanchez beginning with administering to staff members that were live-in and live-in support staff (Assistant Directors, Community Directors, Assistant Community Directors, and Graduate Assistants) the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) to assess intercultural competence – the ability to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities. The results of the test indicated a gap in their perceived and actual cultural competence, which necessitated training and development to help develop those competencies.
The training and development process began with the piloting of Inclusion, Equity and Community Building with residence life staff, a five-module training that addressed topics such as cultural humility and the application to critical incidents, bias awareness and identity authoring, microaggressions and privilege, and an assessment of the department’s organizational culture. Housing staff began completing the series the following semester, which resulted in most of the department’s full-time professional staff participating in the series (plans are underway for custodial staff to receive training as well). The data collected from the series has helped them to identify opportunities for improving organizational culture, and helped the Office of Diversity and Inclusion better cultivate their training and development for other UNT units.
The Department of Housing and Residence Life has continued this journey in pursuit of becoming a multicultural organization and assessing their policies, programs, practices, and people via their departmental committees (including diversity and equity, staff training, staff and student recruitment and selection, policy and manual, appreciation and recognition, and bias response protocol). Departmental meetings have been restructured to invite voices from all levels of the organization to be included in operational decisions, and additional training has been extended to resident assistants (RAs) to develop cultural humility and increase awareness about the influence and impact of social identities on students’ experiences. Some ongoing initiatives include gender inclusive housing options for students, applying affirmative actions in the recruitment and selection of full-time and part-time staff so that the organization is reflective of the students it serves, and modification of housing rate structures to reduce the stigma associated with socioeconomic accommodations.
These efforts, led by Executive Director Gina Vanacore’s commitment to actualize the diversity, equity, and intentional inclusion vision of the department, are a model for institutionalizing Inclusive Excellence.
Join us for a special encore presentation of What We Talk About When We Talk About Race in the evening after the conference. The play is included with your registration, so please come and enjoy the show!
The impetus for the production was Toni Morrison’s (1992) concept “American-Africanism,” the idea that what it means to be White in America is very much dependent on a carefully unacknowledged, but nonetheless distinctive othering of the “abiding Africanist presence” (5) that has haunted the nation since its founding. Morrison points out that even today “the habit of ignoring race is understood to be a graceful, even generous liberal gesture” (9-10) that has effects not only for the victims of racism, but also for the “mind, imagination, and behavior” (12) of those who perpetuate it—often unknowingly.
The production emerged over intimate, home-cooked meals among the cast members. Breaking bread together, we gradually began to broach the silences that existed interracially. Gradually, haltingly, we learned to share stories, current and historical, that were hard to tell and, perhaps, harder still to hear. Through those conversations, which frequently moved in fits and starts, we discovered issues that we had to confront if we were ever to begin to have meaningful conversations with each other and, ultimately, with a broader community through the production.
The title of the show is a deliberate attempt to point to the limitations of any production that purports to deal with race. No performance, certainly not one arising in the current political climate, could hope to address the multitude of issues related to race in America. Thus, we limited our scope to what we talked about in our intimate conversations about our experiences. The issues and stories that resonated with us on our journey are the focus of this show.
The performance has been collaboratively written, directed, and performed. It is largely devised, though it contains personal narrative as well as adaptations of literature. All the verbal and visual texts included in the production have emerged from our exchanges and explorations. What you will witness has been informed by considerations of prejudice and discrimination, oppression, racism, white privilege, and white fragility.
One of our primary objectives in the performance is to help the audience, particularly the white members of the audience, recognize that although they do not perceive themselves as racists, they are deeply enmeshed in highly racialized social formations that perpetuate racist ideologies and racist material circumstances; and, no matter how enlightened any of us perceive ourselves to be—and this includes the cast as we have negotiated this process—we cannot hope to begin to dismantle our current social circumstances until we take a hard look at ourselves and the ways in which we are implicated in them. Our ultimate goal is to attempt to address the barriers that inhibit the kinds of hard conversations that we shared in the process of creating this production.