By Gabriela Olivas, Skyline Student Life and Trends Reporter
ALPINE_ The Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has given a platform for diverse SRSU students and faculty a voice and a place for us all to accept and celebrate our differences. The committee is always coming up with new activities to celebrate the diversity of Sul Ross. Savannah Williamson, the chair of committee, spoke recently to the Skyline about the efforts of her organization..
Q: What is The Committee for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion for students who are unaware of the committee?
Williamson: “The Committee for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) is made up of students, faculty, and staff from all four SRSU campuses. We are charged with making recommendations related to diversity and inclusion issues, including appropriate responses to specific issues, developing and implementing cultural competency trainings, promoting community-engaged scholarships through outreach and awareness, reviewing policies, communications, and procedures to actively promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, and ensuring a safe and welcoming community climate that values cultural inclusivity. We are here to make SRSU the best place possible for all.”
Q: What are some goals the committee plans to achieve?
Williamson: “This year we will be submitting a diversity plan to the administration with recommendations and strategies to make Sul Ross more accessible.
“We are also working to create more cultural spaces and spaces for students across our campuses that reflect who we are and where we are from. We are also working to foster supportive conversations across our campuses and will soon launch or multi-level diversity certificate programs for all university students, staff, and faculty.
“This will give space for conversations related to diversity, not just at SRSU but around the world, and allow members of our campuses to get involved and create programs of their own as campus leaders. We know that we can make Sul Ross—and, by extension, the world—a better place; at the end of the day. That’s always the ultimate goal.”
Q: How are activities planned?
Williamson: “It depends on the activity. Some activities are the product of conversations across campus or are intended to highlight awareness for a particular cause or day. The ideas come from the DEI Committee, student recommendations, requests from the RA’s. Especially if a student has an idea, we will do what we can to make it happen, because we are here for the students.”
Q: How and who started the committee?
Williamson: “The DEI Committee was originally founded in the winter/spring of 2018 by too many dedicated SRSU faculty and staff to be named. When I came to Sul Ross that year, I was lucky enough to be invited to join these conversations and help get the committee established, and I have had the honour of serving as committee chair for the last three years. Originally, the committee did not include membership from Rio Grande, Uvalde, or Eagle Pass campuses, as well as representatives from the local community to ensure that we are working symbiotically.”
Q: Are there any new activities or events in the works right now?
Williamson: “Always! The Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was created by SRSU President Pete P. Gallego last fall and has regular weekly programs and activities. This year, we launched ‘Spill the T at Real Talk Tuesdays’ every Tuesday at lunchtime to talk about current events, culture, and what’s going on at SRSU. We meet in the Cultural Center, located on the first floor of the Wildenthal Library.
“This month, for Women’s History Month, we have a calendar of events to celebrate the women of SRSY and those who have made history. And we will be hosting a Safe Space Training session at the end of March.
“April is Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention Month, as well as Cultural Equity Month, so there will be a new schedule of events and activities coming up.”
Q: How could students reach out to you or the committee if they have ideas or need help?
“We also have the Office for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, located in Wildenthal Library room 126, where students are welcome anytime to talk about ideas for activities, programs, events, responses to matters pertaining to diversity on our campuses, or any challenges or incidents that you may encounter.
“Once the new website is up, we also plan to have a place for individuals to submit ideas, requests, or to let us know what’s happening on campus.”
Q: What message would you like to send to students who feel different, excluded, or like outsiders?
Williamson: “Not just to students, but to all members of the Sul Ross familia: You aren’t alone. You belong here, you matter, and we are listening. The Pack will always be here to help.”
Do you have any ideas or topics of conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion?
“Dine with The Doc” began February 15. Contact Savannah Williamson to have lunch and discuss your ideas and thoughts.
- Where: The Morgan University Center or anywhere with a walking proximity to the campus.
- When: availabilities for lunch Mondays and Wednesdays by appointment.
Do you want a safe place to share your voice?
“Real Talk Tuesdays” is for conversations about any current events and the planning process for activities.
- Where: Wildenthal Library Culture Center
- When: Tuesdays 1-2 p.m. throughout the semester