Tag Archive for diversity

Black History Month Events Celebrate Life, Culture, Experiences

The month of February marked the campus-wide celebration of Black History Month. Hosted by Ujamaa, Wesleyan’s Black Student Union, students took part in a plethora of events that celebrated black life, experiences and culture.

This year events centered around the theme, “Freedom is a Constant Struggle,” highlighting the many years of oppression people of color faced in the United States. Events included a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a student of color art show, a leadership conference, a Black History Month formal and much more.

Photos of Black History Month activities are below: (Photos by Gabi Hurlock ’20, Olivia Drake and Rebecca Goldfarb Terry ‘ 19)

On Feb. 23, students of color presented their visual work at the Be the Art showcase. The exhibit is housed in Zilkha Gallery

On Feb. 23, students of color presented their visual work at the Be the Art showcase. The exhibit is housed in Zilkha Gallery.

Equity Task Force Established

A new task force announced by President Michael Roth will explore the establishment of a multicultural/gender/first-generation resource center as part of Wesleyan’s broader effort to improve equity and inclusion on campus.

The task force will be tri-chaired by Gina Ulysse, professor of anthropology, professor of feminist gender and sexuality studies; Antonio Farias, vice president for equity and inclusion and Title IX officer; and Shardonay Pagett ’18. Their initial recommendations are expected to be published in February with final recommendations by May 1.

“It need hardly be said that making our campus more equitable and inclusive is a communal goal and must be a communal effort,” President Roth wrote in a campus-wide email. “In the course of this work we will be challenged to truly listen to differing viewpoints and to learn from them. In 2016 let’s each and every one of us do what we can—be it personal, political or intellectual—to contribute to equity and inclusion at Wesleyan.”

Wesleyan students, staff and faculty can find updates on the task force’s work and related events, including a community dialogue to be held early spring semester, at equity.wesleyan.edu, and direct input to the task force should be addressed to: equitytaskforce@wesleyan.edu.

Farias said the task force will operate in a transparent manner to provide a clear statement of issues the university faces as a community and how a center would address them, as well as explore policy and operational changes needed to sustain the effort. The group also will consider the broader issue of “cultivating belonging.”

“To ‘cultivate belonging’ is about tending to something we care about,” Ulysse said. “It is about being an engaged presence in the process of change making. Everyone can play a part but there must be will and very clear intentions. The current moment demands that institutions face history without taking short cuts. To that end, if we want to be effective, we need to dedicate ourselves more than ever to engaging in a process of cultivating belonging. Cultivation is really hard work that is action oriented. It requires community, intention and is ongoing. There is no end to it.”

“Words after War” Symposium Offers Conversation, Workshops, Panel Discussions

The Office of Equity and Inclusion sponsored a day-long writing symposium on “Words after War: Storytelling for Life, Business and Politics” Oct. 10 in Usdan University Center.

The symposium, which was open to military veterans, Posse Veteran Scholars, Wesleyan students and community writers, provided thoughtful, diverse conversation and writing about conflict and how to bridge the veteran/civilian divide. More than 45 people registered for the event.

The symposium featured panel discussions and breakout workshops with authors. Participants learned valuable and practical writing techniques and left with a newfound sense of empowerment and inspiration in producing art that builds community, makes an impact, and reaches a wider audience.

The event included panel discussions on “Art of the Interview,” and “Elements of Craft,” and breakout workshops on “Writing Your War (Memoir and Creative Nonfiction),” “Blogging, Social Media, Public Relations, and the Business of Writing” and “Writing in the Academy and Journalism, Politics and National Security.”

Moderators from Wesleyan included Anne Greene, University Professor in English, director of the Wesleyan Writers Conference, and William “Vijay” Pinch, professor of history, professor of environmental studies, chair of the College of the Environment.

Other instructors included Brandon Willitts, executive director and co-founder of Words After War; Lauren Katzenberg, managing editor of Task and Purpose, a digital news and culture publication covering military and veterans issues; Kristen Rouse, the founding director of the NYC Veterans Alliance; Peter Molin, a retired West Point English faculty member and officer with deployment experience to the Sinai, Egypt, Kosovo and Afghanistan; Vanessa Gezari, managing editor of Columbia Journalism Review and an adjunct professor at Columbia Journalism School; Thomas Gibbons-Neff, national security journalist for the Washington Post and former Marine infantryman; and authors/editors Adrian Bonenberger, Sara Nović, Maxwell Neely-Cohen and Matt Gallagher. View the instructors’ full bios here.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Will Barr ’18)

Words After War Writing Symposium at Wesleyan University, Oct. 10, 2015. (Photo by Will Barr '18)

‘Connections’ Mentoring Program Eases Students’ Transition to Wesleyan

New Connections Mentoring Program Mentor Elisa Cardona, director of student activities and leadership development, speaks with her mentee, Eric Zepeda '17 on Oct. 16. Zepeda comes to Wesleyan from San Francisco, Calif.

New Connections Mentoring Program Mentor Elisa Cardona, director of student activities and leadership development, speaks with her mentee, Eric Zepeda ’17 on Oct. 16. Zepeda comes to Wesleyan from San Francisco, Calif.

For first-year students, leaving home and starting a new life at Wesleyan can be exhilarating—but it’s also a major adjustment. Students who find themselves in need of a little extra support now have the option to be matched with faculty or staff mentors to help ease the transition, thanks to a new program from the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Institutional Partnerships.

The Connections Mentoring Program, which started as a small pilot in the 2011-12 school year, recently was expanded to any first-year student who wants mentoring. There are currently 49 mentors and 70 mentees, including 50 first-year students and 20 upperclass students, and the program continues to grow.

According to Dean for Diversity and Student Engagement Renee Johnson-Thornton, back in 2011, she and other deans were approached by male students of color who were experiencing some difficulties acclimating to life at Wesleyan, but felt they had nowhere to take their concerns. Looking to channel these concerns in a productive way, the class deans and the Office of Diversity and Institutional Partnerships hosted two dinner and discussion events in the 2011-12 school year to get feedback from the students. The men voiced their desire to have mentors to help guide them during their time at Wesleyan.

Wesleyan Launches Making Excellence Inclusive Initiative

On Nov. 18, Wesleyan launched Making Excellence Inclusive (MEI), an initiative created to help identify ways to further the university’s institutional diversity and inclusion.

MEI <http://www.wesleyan.edu/partnerships/mei/overview.html> draws on the Making Excellence Inclusive project of the American Association of Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) that re-envisions diversity and inclusion as “a multi-layered process for achieving excellence in learning, research and teaching, student development, institutional functioning, local and global community engagement, workforce development, and more.”

Mellon Fellows Explore Significance of Race, Social Class in South Africa

CaVar Reid '11, second from left, speaks to his peers during Mellon South African Summer Program, held Jan. 4-10 in Cape Town, South Africa.

CaVar Reid '11, second from left, speaks to his peers during Mellon South African Summer Program, held Jan. 4-10 in Cape Town, South Africa.

In 1966, the apartheid government controlling South Africa began forcing more than 60,000 residents of color from their Cape Town homes in attempt to destroy a multi-racial neighborhood called District Six.

On Jan. 8, 2010, Taylor Cain ’11 and CaVar Reid ’11 toured this area, once a flourishing and lively community of freed slaves and immigrants. The township exploration was just one way Cain and Reid gained an understanding of the South African socio-economic, racial, cultural, historical and environmental landscape while interacting with students from academic institutions in the United States and South Africa.

“Knowing the history involved in District Six made going through it a sombering  experience because as we saw all the newer building but we always had in the back of our minds, the thousands of people who were physically forced out of these homes and schools,” Reid recalls. “Some areas have been redeveloped a little but … There is actually big plot of land with a lot of rubble from some of the destroyed homes.”

As Wesleyan Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows, Cain and Reid participated in the Mellon South African Program, held Jan. 3-10 in Cape Town.

Promotions, Appointments in Diversity and Strategic Partnerships

The following promotions and appointments have been made to the Office of Diversity and Strategic Partnerships in July.

Trisha Gordon has been promoted to the position of affirmative action specialist/administrative manager. She will oversee the Office of Affirmative Action and specifically work with Human Resources on staff issues, diversity and sexual harassment prevention trainings, and work with me to develop a campus-wide affirmative action plan. She will oversee the Office of Diversity and Strategic Partnerships and manage all strategic initiatives. She will also continue to assist me in day-to-day operations, meetings, and special project. Gordon has been with Wesleyan since 2001 and has worked in the Office of the Vice President/Secretary of the University. Trisha earned her B.A. in history from Central Connecticut State University, a M.S. in business management from Saint Joseph College, and is a certified middle school teacher and affirmative action professional.

Frank Kuan has been promoted to executive director of the Center for Community Partnerships and will manage the Green Street Art Center and the Office of Community Service and Volunteerism. He will continue to represent Wesleyan in the community, on committees, and at special events, and continue to work closely with the Office of Service Learning. Kuan has been with Wesleyan since 1998 and has worked in various capacities throughout Wesleyan including director of community service, interim director of the Green Street Arts Center and director of community relations. Kuan earned a B.A. in biology, chemistry and Asian American Studies, and a M.S. in counseling from California State University, Fresno. He also serves on many board, commissions and committees in Middlesex County and in Middletown including Middletown Youth Services Bureau, Commission on the Arts, Middlesex United Way and the North End Action Team.

Renee Johnson-Thornton has been appointed to the position of dean of diversity and student engagement. She will focus on student issues campus-wide, manage the Dwight Green Interns, WesDEF and other student lead initiatives. She will continue in her role as associate coordinator for Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. Johnson-Thornton has been with Wesleyan since 1998 and has served as associate director of the McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, assistant to the dean of the college, assistant dean of the Student Academic Resource Network (SARN), and associate coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. She earned her B.A. in English and African American Studies from Binghamton University, SUNY, M.A in liberal studies from Wesleyan University, and Ph.D (ABD) in education from the University of Rhode Island. Johnson-Thornton also is a board member of the Middletown School Board of Education.