Mizzou, Yale, Ithaca…UST Next?

Sunday night saw over 40 multicultural club representatives sit-in at the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) meeting to voice concerns about recent budget allocation and overall displeasure with the treatment of multicultural clubs and, more broadly, students of color at the University of St. Thomas.


As Gabrielle Ryan, USG’s Diversity Relations Representative, began to call for USG’s accountability in representing multicultural clubs, representatives stood and held up signs expressing their frustration:



When given the chance to vocalize their concerns, club leaders and members strongly reiterated several points: feelings of neglect and disrespect from both USG and White students on campus, calls for transparency on USG’s decision-making processes related to club financing, and calls for USG representatives to intentionally engage with multicultural club representatives during decision-making processes.

Club representatives at the protest explained that many of these issues of poor representation and neglect have persisted throughout their tenures at UST. To them, this protest is the result of years of discrimination and only the beginning of a push to bring larger institutional changes to the university that make UST more accommodating of students of color.

Frankly, there is nothing different between the treatment experienced by multicultural leaders here versus their peers at Missouri, Yale, or Ithaca. These students have reported being discouraged when beginning to express frustration with mistreatment from various departments at the University of St. Thomas.

Now, with momentum and a collective voice, these students will not be quiet.

Heritage Month

Upcoming Events: Native American Heritage Month!

November is here, meaning our Native American Heritage Month (NAHM) celebration is about to begin!

Native American tribal cultures have unique and long-lasting influences throughout the United States. Twenty-four states have names derived from Native American words, including Minnesota (Mnisota) which is the Dakota name for the Minnesota river and also means “clear water” (University of Minnesota Department of American Indian Studies).

The programs we have for NAHM this year shed light on many unique aspects of Native American culture in the Midwest and Minnesota in particular. From art museum trips to riveting documentaries, we hope this month’s programming creates awareness of the daily influence of Native American culture as well as an understanding that the Native American population is as diverse as any other ethnic group.


Minneapolis Institute of Arts trip: Arriving at Fresh Water

This Friday, join us on a trip to the MIA for an exhibit highlighting some of the best works of Native American art from the Great Lakes region. Sign up in our office before we close on Friday (4:30 pm) if you want to come on this quick visit to this enriching exhibit.


Diversity Film Series: Mann v. Ford

On November 17, the second installment of our Diversity Film Series airs in the ASC Dining Room (ASC 366). Mann v. Ford is a documentary on the fight beteween Ramapough Mountain Indians and the Ford Motor Company over toxic waste dumping on Ramapough lands. Mistreatment of Native lands by large corporations and federal government is common, and the documentary captures one of these battles in great detail.


We also have Purple Bench on the first three Fridays of November discussing Native American communities and experiences, and T’s will be serving a Native-influenced menu on the week of November 16th.

All of that and more will be coming at you for this Native American Heritage Month. Stay tuned, continue to check our social media pages for updates, and wait patiently for your next Dose of Diversity!


Halloween and Cultural Appropriation

Halloweekend approaches, and no, you don’t get a pass to “Put the WOW in pow wow”:


You’re free to dress how you want this Halloween, but you’re not free of the responsibility to respect the cultures of your peers. Not only is it blatant disrespect and negligence of the history of a group of people to misuse cultural symbols for a fun night out (i.e. “Pocahontas” in the image above), it poorly reflects upon you, your peers, and your community.

The #TommiesThinkTwice initiative pushes for UST community members to be mindful of behaviors and beliefs that might be practiced unconsciously which harm underrepresented populations.

This weekend, we ask that you be aware of Halloween costumes that misuse cultural symbols. Think twice about supporting such costumes, and think twice about your intent and the message you’re sending if you do wear a costume inspired by a certain culture. Read this article about Colorado University’s “We’re A Culture, Not a Costume” campaign for this Halloween season, and check out the series of posters being created for it.


Our message is simple: don’t misuse culture for fun. It allows for stereotypes and misunderstandings of others to persist, and it doesn’t make you look good.

If you do feel inclined to correct someone’s misuse of culture, great! But please do not shame people for doing so. You can explain what is wrong about it without attacking a person’s character or embarrassing them.

For tips on how to address cultural appropriation and its distinction from cultural exchange/appreciation, consider looking at these resources:

Come into our office (ASC 224) for Purple Bench this Friday, October 30 at 3 p.m. to further discuss this topic.

Thank you for reading! Be safe this Halloween, think twice about cultural appropriation, and come back soon for your next Dose of Diversity!



#purplebench, Heritage Month

In Conclusion: Hispanic Heritage Month

This Friday will mark the end of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. From discussions on the lived experiences of undocumented immigrants to Afro-Caribbean dance nights, the month was full of enriching and fun activity. Here are some of the highlights:

Diversity Film Series: Spare Parts

SDIS began its new Diversity Film Series with the presentation of Spare Parts the night of September 15th. The film, starring George Lopez and Marisa Tomei, is a dramatization of a true story about four undocumented Mexican-American high school students who competed and won in a college-level underwater robotics contest against tough odds.

Issues like socioeconomic disadvantage, neglect from authority figures (e.g. parents, school administrators), and constant family strain due to legal complications were illustrated in the film. A discussion during Purple Bench the Friday after the screening evoked greater discussion about the struggles of undocumented immigrants.

One major takeaway from the Purple Bench discussion was debunking the inaccurate view of undocumented immigrants being an isolated population of Mexicans that live near the border. The undocumented Hispanic/Latino immigrant community includes many Central and South Americans, and is widespread in the USA. An intimate personal testimony revealed to us that it also includes residents of South Minneapolis that many of us frequently pass by and interact with.

Spare Parts  allowed an accurate glimpse into the daily lives of these families, and the experiences shared at Purple Bench provided better understanding and empathy for their plight.


Culture Stew: Slavery in the Americas

Our first Culture Stew of the school year dove into the rich but little-known history of African slavery in South America. With a focus on Brazilian slavery, Dr. Kari Zimmerman detailed differences in the daily lives of African slaves in Brazil versus the American colonies. This led to a greater discussion about how Brazil’s history shaped the nation’s racial climate.

Students who attended the event said they gained a perspective on race in America and a greater understanding of the cultural diversity in Latin America. It not only opened their eyes to Brazilian history and culture, but it provided a comparison to reevaluate American society with a new lens.



On October 7th, Minneapolis-based Afro-Caribbean Dance band Malamanya came to perform in ASC Woulfe. The music played included Salsa, Bachata, and Merengue. People of all different skill levels came out and danced the night away to some live, upbeat Afro-Caribbean music.


Heartwarming, entertaining, and educational. Hispanic Heritage Month was a great mix of events and programs that saw people learn and have plenty of fun engaging with Hispanic and Latino culture.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our programs! We are now getting ready for our next heritage month celebration, Native American Heritage Month, in November. Stay tuned for updates on that.

Come back soon for your next Dose of Diversity!


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM)

2015 his t

Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) is back.

Established in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week (yes, it was once only a week) by President Lyndon Johnson, in 1988 President Ronald Reagan turned HHM into the 30 days between September 15 —the day five Central American countries celebrate their independence from Spain; plus don’t forget Mexico’s September 16 independence — and October 15. There is even a public law in the books saying that Americans must recognize this month so that, as the government’s official HHM page describes, we all celebrate “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

Looking at some of the social media accounts that SDIS monitors and follow we saw the following question posed to audiences: “Let us know what you think about #HispanicHeritageMonth.”
Here are few of the twitter answers that we saw:
• Hate the word His-Panic. Let’s go with “El Mes De Latinos”
• It provides an opportunity to educate others of the richness of our culture and the accomplishments of our gente.
• Whether or not we are born in the USA or in our home country, to be who we are and have culture is always a celebration.
• Que viva Latinos everywhere! We are a great melting pot.
• While we celebrate important public figures, I want to celebrate every day Latinos who live exemplary lives.
• Every day for me is Hispanic Heritage Month
• I do enjoy the events my community puts on. It’s a way to celebrate the diversity among Latinos. That part is authentic.
Not sure what your thoughts are, but we would love to hear from you and invite you to celebrate with us and our UST community this month. Here is the link to events.
Tuesday  we started the celebration with the viewing of “Spare Parts”, we promised to post discussion/contemplative questions.
1. What solutions does SPARE PARTS present for helping teenagers excel in school and build healthy friendships? What can we learn from the robotics team about reaching out to at-risk youth?

2. Did SPARE PARTS change the way you see America’s immigration controversy? If you could re-write the nation’s immigration policies, what changes would you make (if any)?

3. Discuss the role of education in society. Manuela tells Joshua Davis that the fees for attending public schools in Mexico were small but sometimes hard to meet. How does a free education contribute to a free society? Should the curriculum include bilingual instruction?


We encourage you to provide your feedback and invite you to join us in the celebration!

diversity, Poster contest, Uncategorized

2015 Diversity Poster Contest “Embrace Diversity”

2014DiversityPosterContestWinnersLooking for great poster contest entries for 2015! Here is the 2014 winning poster and description.

Raymond Nkwain Kindva – 1st Place

 My poster is titled, Celebrate You…Because You are Diversity because it describes the influence of diversity on me. The poster contains two faces; my mother and I represented respectively by the woman on the left and the boy on the right. Both are looking up at the birds in the sky while the sun, represented by the words “Celebrate You…” radiates the sky and the horizon. This poster describes my feeling about diversity and why I wish to celebrate it.

My aim in designing this poster is to recognize the person who taught me to love my unique talents. This person is my mother – the woman on the left of the poster– who accepted me for who I am and has inspired me to accept others for who they are. She may not be the most educated person in the world but she taught me the power of believing in myself no matter how different I am. The words reflected on her face and mine are words I learned from her; words that did not mean anything to me when growing up. As a boy, I didn’t care much about my own differences but cared way more about how they fit to the world around me. That continued when I was a teenager as I tried to fit into every environment I was in. It led me to self-doubt myself whenever I did something that did not fit the type of environment I was in. Fortunately, my mother always stepped in to challenge my definition of being different and instilled the belief of using my differences to do something positive. My best quote of hers when I was in self-doubt is, “If Neil Armstrong believed we would never one day fly like birds, then he would not have been the first person to walk on the moon!” This quote has always inspired me to look at my uniqueness as a positive and one that could one day benefit the world.

For full detail visit-


Calvin Hill PhD, Courageous Conversations, diversity, Uncategorized

Point of view by Dr. Calvin Hill UST Diversity Officer- “Diversity tension is inevitable, but we can argue our points responsibly.”

hillOn Thursday February 26, 2015, a group of St. Thomas students courageously organized a die/sit in in the Anderson Student Center. The purpose was to pay respect to the many lives lost to senseless violence in our country within the last year. As a brief recap to name just a few of those we lost: Tamir Rice (age 12) was shot and killed by police in Cleveland, OH in November of 2014; Micheal Brown (age 18) was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, MO in August of 2014; Eric Garner (age 43) died of neck compression from a chokehold at the hands of police in New York, NY July 2014; and most recently, three Muslim students attending the University of North Carolina, Dean Barakat (age 23), Yusor Abu-Salha (age 21), and Razon Abu-Salha (age 19) were shot and killed this past February by a neighbor.

According to student James Mite, President of the Black Empowerment Student Alliance, the protest had multiple goals: (1) It was intended to provide a safe space for students to express themselves, (2) It would allow students to pay respect for lives lost in the Black and Muslim community, and (3) It would build a community across cultural lines. In an email to several members of the community, Mr. Mite noted that his hope was “that students would leave the protest with a better sense of belonging here at St. Thomas.”

I decided to write this brief thought piece after learning about a series of posts to an anonymous social media site. As a diversity educator, I value diversity in all forms, including diversity of thought. Therefore, rather than let what could be an explosive situation go unchecked, I felt that this was a great learning opportunity for our campus community, to “build a community across cultural lines” as Mr. Mite stated as one of his goals for the protest.

February’s UST die/sit in stirred conflicting feelings from across our campus community. Why? My guess is that we had many members of our community examine the protest from their own lenses. The lives lost in the Black and Muslim communities have caused pain and outcry across many sectors of our country. As a Black male, having an understanding of historical oppression, and concerns over issues of trust, especially from those in positions of authority in this country, as well as the knowledge that any of the deaths noted above could easily have been me, a son, brother, father, or partner is frightening. But how could those who have not experienced the world, as I have understand my pain?

Conversely, for those who have grown up experiencing the police (or others in positions of authority) as being there to serve and protect them, how could they understand, that their lived experience interacting with the police is not universal? Arguably, we need to explore how our varied social identities bias how we see each other and the world around us. I write this to note that conflict around issues of diversity is not uncommon, but how we deal with our conflict will dictate the type of learning experience we can take from it.

I see this conflict as an opportunity to explore how our varied lived experience has caused us to think and interact as we do. Over the next several weeks, I will be working with the Division of Student Affairs to organize a series of Courageous Conversations. These conversations will serve as opportunities for us to address issues and learn about each other so that we can grow together as one community. I believe that we have a common interest in valuing each other and our diversity. Let’s make a commitment to challenge ourselves when we turn to the safety of our social identity and do something; let’s not be satisfied with continuing the status quo.

I want to encourage our community not to insult each other, or use personal attacks when we simply don’t understand conflicting realities. As noted above, diversity tension is inevitable, but we can argue our points responsibly.

Calvin R. Hill, Ph.D.
Diversity and Inclusion Officer

University of St. Thomas


A interview with Dr. Hill UST Diversity Officer by Loïc Attikossie


LoicHill2In Dr. Calvin Hill’s view, this is the perfect time to be the Diversity Officer at St. Thomas.
The University of St. Thomas recently hired a new Diversity Officer. He went through several formal interviews during the process and now that he is on campus, we sent of our Public Relations intern, Loic Attikossie to drop by and have a chat with Dr. Calvin Hill. We wanted to provide the student with an opportunity to learn a few things about Dr. Hill. Here’s what Hill had to say about the initiatives he is leading at UST:

Loic: What drew you to St. Thomas?
Dr. Hill:
That’s a good question. I’ve heard that one a lot. For me, I was looking for a career change. And I had a number of campuses I was looking at. One of my goals was to find an urban location. One of the things I liked about St. Thomas was the proximity to the St. Paul/Minneapolis urban core.
I grew up in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and as well as did my graduate work at Howard University in Washington DC so I really wanted get to an area that had what I would consider a vibrant cultural center. What I found is that this is an institution that fits that niche. When I came to the Twin Cities in November, not only was it visually stimulating when I walked around campus, but as I got an opportunity to interview and meet people, I just felt like this was a place where I would feel comfortable as well as a place where I could make a difference.
Loic: What did you major in?
Dr. Hill: As an undergraduate, I was a history and political science double major. My goal back then was to go law school, but then I did an internship my junior and then I didn’t changed my mind. I had to revamp myself. I did my master’s degree in Student Personal Administration, which is similar to the Educational Leadership, and Student Affairs program that St. Thomas has here. And I did my PhD in the area that I love which is political science. I wanted to study and research what was considered a hard discipline. And I also wanted to go to a Historical Black College ((HBCU.)

Loic: Describe your job in one sentence
Dr. Hill: I can probably do that in a few words. It is to create community.
I think about diversity and it’s about creating a climate that’s going to allow everyone to be successful and creating a climate where everyone is going to talk to each other. If you don’t know your neighbor then you’re not in a community.

Loic: What was the path to your current position?

Dr. Hill: I sort of came to diversity by default. My first job was an admission counselor for minority students at a predominantly white school. Yet, I was fortunate to have had great mentors along the way. One recommended I do my masters in student affairs. I knew when I was in that program I wanted to give back to students who had similar experiences to mine while trying to complete their education. I knew the trials and tribulations of being the only person to look like myself in a classroom and feeling like I had to give 120%. So for me going into D & I was not necessarily intentional. It was a path based on a passion, a need to give back.
Loic: What was the best advice you received along the way?
Dr. Hill: The best advice I had along the way was to go to Historical Black College. One of my mentors was Dr. Edward Butler at Emporia State University in Kansas, who had gotten me there for my Master’s program. I think Dr. Butler got tired of me complaining about being on a majority campus. As I was looking at doctorial programs, he told me, “Do something different do something for yourself.” I was admitted to the PhD program at Howard University. I flourished in DC. If you haven’t’ had a black college experience, in my opinion it is definitely worthwhile.

Loic: What are some initiatives will you be working this year?
Dr. Hill: One of those will be staff hiring. I want to make sure all of our students see staff members that are diverse; diverse faculty, and diverse individuals in leadership roles on campus.
We’ll be also looking at our recruitment process around creating a more diverse student body. We want to diversify our student population. That’s not just in reference in the terms in race and ethnicity. We’re going to be talking about how students are diverse from social economical differences, from ideological differences, regional differences. So we want to bring people to this campus that are diverse from all dimensions of human diversity. When we go into the world of work, we going to run into people that are different from ourselves. The more we can make St. Thomas a microcosm of the world, more specifically, the United States, the better prepared our graduates will be.

Loic: What do you value as a leader and diversity officer?
Dr. Hill: One thing I value is community. I can’t do my job alone. If you expect one person to come into this role and snap his/her fingers and make this a diverse campus, then you are wrong. My job is to serve as someone that can collaborate with different offices, students and create a climate that brings about increased civility and increased aspects of inclusion.
Loic: Has anything surprised you about UST so far?
Dr. Hill The level of openness to diversity. Right now, I’m meeting with what you would consider “the choir”. You know, the people that see the ultimate vision. I think that on every campus there are people who are maybe reluctant to change or are questioning perhaps why we need to change but I have not run into that. Everyone has been really open and has been talking about how diversity is absolutely critical to St. Thomas’ success and to its long-term longevity.

Loic: Is there anything else you would like the student body to know about you?
Dr. Hill: Oh my gosh, as you will see, today is bow tie Wednesdays. I know you guys have Tommie Tuesdays but I’m trying to bring to the institution but I’m trying to bring bow tie Wednesdays to St. Thomas. That’s sort of my trademark.
I’m a very open person and I want students to see me across campus or come into my office and feel like they can talk to me. I want to be here for all students, majority students and students from diverse backgrounds alike. You know we’re here for students. I can’t do my job if I don’t understand the student’s experience. I want students at any point and time to come say hi. Don’t hesitate to raise concern towards things that you feel need to change.

Loic: I was going to mention something about the bow tie, I like it.

Dr. Hill: Well thank you

Dr. Hill will be visiting with students during SDIS Purple Bench time on Thursday February 19 from 2-3 p.m. Please drop by and continue the conversation!

Interview conducted by Loïc Attikossie


diversity, Heritage Month, Uncategorized

Black History is American History

2015BlackHistoryMonthEventsFebruary is a time to remind ourselves of the many and varied contributions African Americans have made to every aspect of the U.S. culture and to celebrate them in conjunction with others. Be it music, science, religion, health, examples and influence from the black experience are present.
Please join Student Diversity and Inclusion Services in celebrating Black History Month this February! The month kicks off with “The Gathering” on Friday, Feb. 6th at 8 p.m. in ASC LL Dance. We once again welcome DJ Enferno for a “Flashback Friday” themed event. Invite students to celebrate the new semester with us by reconnecting with friends and letting loose on the dance floor.
Come to ASC Hearth on Tuesday, Feb. 10th at 4 p.m. for some dialogue and stew! The topic for Culture Stew is natural hair, and discussion will be facilitated by Dr. Buffy Smith, Dr. Todd Lawrence, and Michelle Miller (student). Mixed Blood Theatre will present “AFRICAN AMERICA” in ASC Scooter’s on Wednesday, Feb. 11th at 7 p.m. The play helps immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Liberia to connect with and celebrate their heritage as an interracial couple is led by a magical African to a better understanding of the immigrant experience.2015AfricanAmericaScreen
There will be a special menu at T’s in ASC for the week of Feb.16-20 to celebrate Black History Month! Special lunch items will be served from 11a.m.-2 p.m. Our main event this week is a series of slam poetry workshops and performances Feb. 17-20 with help from STAR, BESA, American Culture and Difference, Office of Mission, and the English department. Dr. Todd Lawrence writes:
Nate Marshall is a poet,2015SlamPoetryWeekScreem writer, rapper, educator, and activist from the south side of Chicago. He is author of Blood Percussion and the forthcoming Wild Hundreds. Featured in the award-winning documentary Louder Than a Bomb and the HBO series “Brave New Voices,” Marshall is a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at University of Michigan where he earned an MFA in poetry. He has won many awards, including the 2014 Hurston/Wright Foundation Amistad Award and the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from University of Pittsburgh Press.
Michael Mlekoday is the author of The Dead Eat Everything. He won the 2009 National Poetry Slam with the St. Paul team, and returned in 2010 to coach the team to another championship. He has served as Poetry Editor of Indiana Review, and his poems have appeared in Ninth Letter, RHINO, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Anti-, Muzzle Magazine, and other journals.
During their visit, Nate Marshall and Mike Mlekoday will offer poetry workshops so that participating poets can improve their writing and performance skills. Poets will receive personal instruction from two published artists who have extensive experience with performance poetry.

In our final week of celebrating, Dr. Bryana French will lead our Still We Rise series with the Luann Dummer Center for Women. Come discuss the “Intersectionality of Black Women” and enjoy a soul food dinner on Wednesday, Feb. 25th at 5:30 p.m. in the Luann Dummer Center for Women (OEC 103).

Celebration leads to providing experiences that create lasting impressions and knowledge. This month is especially significant to enhance our sense of the differences, sameness, and uniqueness of every individual allowing us to embrace the contributions of all of us in this shrinking society.


J-Term Book Club 2015-Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman

piper5We would like to share the discussions questions for “Orange is the New Black”

Week 2
1. Table introductions:
• Who is your favorite character, and why?
2. Summarize key points from this week’s chapters that outline Piper’s story.

3. On pages 78-79, Piper says:
“…it was a clear demonstration that I ‘had it like that’ on the outside, a network of people who had both a concern for me and the time and money to buy me books…I saw that some of the women had little or no resources from the outside to help make their prison life livable.”
• What other examples of social capital have you noticed in the book?
• Can you think of a way that people without social capital are affected outside of prison? At UST?

4. Piper references conditions in county jails on page 125, calling them “universally nasty, full of drunks, prostitutes, and junkies.” She goes on to say that conditions were better at Danbury, a federal prison.
• Piper says it costs $30,000/year to incarcerate a prisoner (p. 138). Given the descriptions of Danbury’s conditions, does this surprise you? Why or why not?

5. One of the guards at Danbury was prosecuted for sexually abusing prisoners and served one month in jail (p. 130). Does the punishment fit the crime? How are perceptions of power-based violence similar or different outside prison?

Week 3

Piper refers to Danbury as a “Human Warehouse” in chapter 10. She later says, “A lengthy term of community service working with addicts on the outside would probably have driven the same truth home and been a hell of a lot more productive for the community,” (p. 180)

What do you think? Was it necessary for piper to go to prison?

Think back to our conversation about social capital—Piper mentions that she had a job lined up for her when she left prison.  Do you think this is common for inmates?

What are some challenges you can think of for women who are trying to rejoin society after imprisonment?

How might new policies keep these women from returning to prison?

Piper has a realization of the consequences of her actions which led her to Danbury.  She looks at Allie and Pennsatuckey, who suffer from addiction, and acknowledges the role she had in others’ addictions.

    • Do you think she feels real remorse?
    • Do you hold her, and other suppliers, accountable?
  • Our presenter and contact information- Sarah King –MnCoSA Volunteer Coordinator –

Week 4


  • Discuss some of the connections that Piper made with the other inmates at Danbury. What does she learn from them?
  • Which of the other stories that were shared over the course of the memoir did you find particularly intriguing?Piper says, “I was eager to offer what I had, which was more than I had realized. Judging others held little appeal to me now, and when I did it, I regretted it.” (Ch. 15)
    • What other ways did piper transform during her time in prison?
  • After reading Orange Is the New Black, do you think our prison system is successful? Do you think its dramatic growth over the last thirty years—nearly 400 percent more Americans in prison—is a good thing for the country?
    • Why or why not?
    • What do you think the author is trying to accomplish by telling her story?
  • What are some questions that you have for piper Kerman when she comes to campus on March 25th?