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Diversity and inclusion: A year in review

Ibtihaj Muhammad takes questions from the audience during a session moderated by Associate Provost Ani Yazedijan.

Illinois State continued its ongoing work toward diversity and inclusion with programs, events, speakers, research, and initiatives. Here’s a glimpse at the 2018-2019 year.

Initiatives supported
Students, faculty, staff, and community members showed their support for efforts and programs that bridge gaps and heal divides.

Illinois State worked to have courageous conversations in the classroom, engaging in potentially controversial topics instead of silencing the comments.

people giving a thumbs up while at a table on the ISU Quad

Members of SERC and Health Promotion and Wellness at Festival ISU. From left to right: Chris Dove , Erica Efigenio, Brendan Wall, Blair Canedy, Desi Hernandez, and Misia Grzybowski.

Students who are underrepresented continue to connect with mentors in the STEM field through the University College Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. Students and community members combined to launch the School Street Food Pantry out of the First United Methodist Church to help alleviate the food desert near campus. Students Ending Rape Culture (SERC) continued work to let survivors know they are not alone. Local law enforcement joined with transgender, Muslim, and Sikh communities to host community awareness training.

Not all issues are visible to the eye. Student Access and Accommodation Services and Student Counseling Services help students find paths and build skills to success.

University Housing expanded gender-neutral housing options for students in residence halls, and Facilities included more all-gender restrooms.

Spotlights shined

Awards, scholarships, and honors celebrated successful efforts across campus.

Illinois State’s Best Buddies chapter celebrated its 29th year as one of the oldest chapters in the country. Safe Zone, celebrating its 20th anniversary, continued to help create highly visible and easily identifiable safe spaces for the LGBTQA+ community at Illinois State.

A record number of Illinois State graduate students were awarded the Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois this year with eight total recipients.

Two people standing with a certificate

Kimya Oliphant is one of the winners of the inaugural $500 merit scholarships from the African American Studies program.

The African American Studies awards recognized students minoring in African American Studies as well as granting a Summer Research Initiative grant. The Impact Awards, recognizing faculty, staff, and students, were designed to show appreciation for the impact an individual member of the campus community can have on new students and student retention.

At the annual Founders Day celebration, Rocío Rivadeneyra was named the recipient of the 2018-2019 David A. Strand Diversity Achievement Award.

Jaime Flores along with his wife, Lizet, created the Jaime and Lizet Flores Endowed Scholarship Fund for Latinx students in the College of Business. The Representation Project awarded diverse books to one Illinois high school English teacher for classroom use to represent more groups of people.

Academics enlightened
Professor Ellis Hurd’s new book, The Reflexivity of Pain and Privilege, brought to light stories of scholars and authors who navigate the worlds of teaching, research, and family through a lens of mixed identity. A new book by Illinois State University’s Liv Stone titled Atenco Lives! sheds light on the ties forged between documentary films and social movements.

Assistant Professor Erin Quast was recognized for her research on Kindergartener’s recognition of race.  Charles Bell, a professor of criminal justice at Illinois State, discussed his research on the use of suspensions as a temporary fix that tend to hurt students more than they help.

Charles Bell with several elementary school students

Charles Bell, Ph.D., hands out school bags at a community engagement event in Detroit.

Visiting playwright Adong Judith came to Illinois State to present her play Ga-AD!

Associate Professor of Speech Pathology Heidi Harbers paired her Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate students with foreign study abroad students from the INTO-ISU program to promote linguistic diversity. Professor Susan Hildebrandt’s LAN 320 class taught world language and culture to K-5 students at the University of Illinois Extension Unity Community Center’s after school program.

Danielle Beasley of Student Counseling Services raised awareness about gaslighting, highlighting what it is, how it effects people, and how to get help stopping it.

Events energized

The Culturally Responsive Campus Community (CRCC) aimed to enlighten, educate, and ignite conversation around creating a more equitable and just campus environment for all with speakers and workshops under the 2018 theme of Diversity and Inclusion in an Ever-Changing Political Environment.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month aimed not only to raise awareness, but to help in preventing sexual assault from happening in the first place, and to continue the conversation on sexual assault past the month of April. Denim Day was brought to the Quad to let the Illinois State community show support for survivors of sexual assault.

A row of outfits on mannequins

From an Army uniform, to T-shirts, and children’s pajamas, Criminal Justice Sciences students created outfits to combat the idea that clothing triggers assault for the “What were you wearing?” exhibit.

The annual Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium featured criminal justice students calling out victim blaming in sexual assault with the project “What were you wearing?” And the Take Back the Night rally offered a place for survivors or sexual violence, allies, families, and members of the community a supportive space to speak out against sexual harassment and violence.

The popular Lunch n’ Unlearn series prompted discussion on social justice issues regarding disabilities, race, gender, and sexuality. The Fall 2018 Ethnographic Film Series explored politics, folktales, challenges, and tolerance through film. The Office of International Studies and Programs and AsiaConnect celebrated the diverse culture of Asia with Asian Heritage Week at Illinois State.

The African Drumming and Dance Ensemble showcased music, songs, and dance of Asafo (warrior companies in Ghana), war, recreation, education, storytelling, and music therapy students’ application of African music. The International Food Symposium celebrated the history and diversity of food in the Hispanic transatlantic world.

Shea Coulee headlined Illinois State’s 21st annual Charity Drag Show. Milner Library hosted a reception for the exhibit Puerto Rico: Reinforcing a Sense of Place Through Art After the Hurricane.

Student affinity groups honored graduating seniors with recognition ceremonies that included MAPS Cultural Graduate Recognition Ceremony for those from Middle Eastern, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Southeast Asian descent; Umoja: A Celebration of Black GraduatesNuestros Logros for Latinx graduates; and Lavender Graduation ceremony for students from the LGBTQIA+ community.

Speakers inspired
Speakers throughout the 2018-2019 year sparked conversation.

Dr. Temple Grandin keynote speaker Science and Technology 2019

Autism advocate Temple Grandin was the keynote speaker for Science and Technology Week 2019.

The Speaker Series at Illinois State University brought to campus inspiring groundbreakers such as Temple Grandin, considered to be the most well-known adult with autism in the world; world-renowned speaker Jessica Lynn, who addressed transgender acceptance in communities; Fred Hampton Jr. who spoke on the legacy of his father and the Black Panther party; and Nicole Kelly, one of the first ever Miss America contestants to compete with a physical disability.

Racial disparities took center stage with Terrell Strayhorn presenting ‘Race (Still) Matters… and So Do You!’, Briahna Joy Gray giving a talk titled “The Identity Politics Wars: 2020 Edition” at the Black History Month celebration, and Jason De León, author of The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail, gave the Robert G. Bone Distinguished Lecture.

Intersectionality was the focus of speakers such as Juniperangelica Cordova, who offered the workshop  ‘Queering the Latinx Community’.  Alfredo Mirandé presenting on the third gender present in the Zapotec people of Mexico. Qwo-Li Driskill spoke on the celebration of Cherokee two-spirit at the 24th annual Women’s and Gender Studies Symposium. Kimberly Shinew, the McGinnis speaker, addressed the impact of race, ethnicity, and social class of sports and behaviors.

Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad

Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad speaks during the first-ever Muslim Cultural Dinner.

Cultural dinners celebrated the past and future with speakers such as Michael Eric Dyson, who delivered the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Dinner keynote; Maria Hinojosa, anchor and reporter for various national news stations, brought her story to campus for the Latino Cultural Dinner; and Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad inspired others to challenge the status quo as a powerful symbol of America’s tolerance and diversity at the Muslim Cultural Dinner.

Caitlin Ryan and Jill Hermann-Wilmarth, co-authors of the book Reading the Rainbow, spoke about the book and their work with LGBTQIA+ literature in grade-school art classes. Holocaust survivor Vladimir Rott spoke on his experience as a Jew under the oppression of both Stalin in the USSR as well as under the occupation of the Nazi’s during WWII.

The International Seminar Series brought speakers both from Illinois State and around the country to teach the community about religion and spiritual beliefs from around the world.

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