Around Campus: Updates from the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

November 21, 2022
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Arcoiris Mariachi Band performs outside on SUA's Campus in honor of Latine Heritage and LGBT History Months
Arcoiris Mariachi Band, the world’s first and only LGBTQ+ Mariachi Band, performing at SUA in honor of Latine Heritage and LGBT History Months

The mission of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is to support and foster individuals who embody the characteristics of a global citizen and ensure that the university community continues its ever-evolving development, which is grounded in the dignity and respect of each individual and their contributions to our community. In October, the DEI office conducted allyship training, distributed ally packs, and shared more Soka Story Corps experiences with our community. This month it hosted an alternative way to think about Thanksgiving.

Allyship Training

The DEI Office organized its first Allyship Training on Oct. 25. Meg E. Evans, director of education and research at Break Away, facilitated the training, which focused on educating Soka faculty and staff on LGBTQ2+ identities. Evans discussed language, laws, politics, and statistics and shared practices for promoting LGBTQ2+ safety and inclusion. The training helped expand the understanding of LGBTQ2+ communities and how best to support them on campus.

Soka Ally Pack

An ally is a person who is committed to fighting discrimination and prejudices by educating themself, challenging their biases, collaborating with society, and taking action toward creating positive change. An ally pack assists people in the work of building a wise, compassionate, and collaborative community where everyone is treated with equity and dignity.

The DEI office released an ally pack on Latine Heritage Month (Sept. 15–Oct. 15) this October. In its ongoing effort to create a culture of belonging and inclusion, the DEI office intentionally chose to use the term “Latine” from “Latinx.” You can learn more about the terms and Latine heritage here.

The DEI Office also released a LGBTQ+ ally pack, providing an overview of LGBT History Month (October), National Coming Out Day (October 11), and International Pronouns Day (October 19). The pack included the voices of Taiji Morgan ’24 (they/them) and Audrey Chu ’24 (they/them). It also shared how to engage in value-creating conversations with LGBTQ+ folks as an ally.

Soka Story Corps

Soka community members are invited to share personal stories with members of the broader community. Through this effort, the DEI Office hopes to record and preserve the various voices of Soka to heighten awareness and empathy for the nuanced human experience that surrounds diversity, equity, and inclusion and how it shows up in each community member. This October, the DEI Office released LGBT History Month Story Corps, in which Jaime Dance, assistant director of residential life, shared her experiences and the significance of LGBT history month to her: a time to be celebrated and connected to community.

Recognizing ‘Thankstaking’

Many of us who grew up in the United States are accustomed to the tradition of gathering together and sharing food during the Thanksgiving holiday. The DEI office wanted to offer that experience to students who might not have had that opportunity, while also acknowledging the truth of the origins of Thanksgiving. 
“Thankstaking” recognizes the unlawful theft of the land of Indigenous people who were here first and continue to fight for human rights. The Nov. 18 event included conversation, dinner, and music and was held in the spirit of understanding that gratitude looks different in other parts of the world and with the aim to learn about diverse perspectives from each other.