Monthly Archives

April 2016

Courageous Conversations

Anti-Racism Campaign

Rachel

It’s April 2016, and you still probably don’t think racism exists at the University of St. Thomas.

Starting with a protest of USG in November, a strong contingent of students of color have continued to voice their frustration with the campus’ racial climate.

Since the protest, the formation of the Students of Color: Claim Our Seat (SOCCOS) movement has occurred. SOCCOS published a document of policy recommendations regarding the diversity and inclusiveness of St. Thomas’ campus climate two days after the protest.

Since then, the document has reached the desks of many administrators, faculty, and staff, including President Sullivan, Provost Richard Plumb, and members of the Anti-Racism Coalition. The coalition, formed by students, staff, and faculty aligned with the SOCCOS movement, published an open letter earlier this month drawing attention to persistent issues of inclusiveness and racial injustice on campus. The letter was met with a thorough response from President Sullivan herself.

In the letter, Sullivan highlights the work of the ‘Embracing our Differences as One Human Family’ task force of the Strategic Planning Committee. Sullivan addressed the urgent requests of the coalition to invest more into creating or developing inclusive space, equity training, and educational efforts.

Movement at the administrative level has not slowed down the need of students to continue voicing their concerns. Students both affiliated and unaffiliated with SOCCOS have been participating in the Anti-Racism Campaign for Tommies! (ACT!) in the past several weeks. The campaign captures the issues facing some students of color on campus through a photo series and video.

Many of the students featured in the ACT! campaign want to express that racism happens in ways that aren’t violent or individualized. The students share about their experiences with stereotyping, microaggressions, and being misrepresented among other issues.

Freesia Towle, graduate assistant at SDIS, is leading the charge in developing the campaign. She aims to make the ACT! campaign a platform for students to leverage their voices to facilitate racial justice dialogue and anti-racist mobilization in the St. Thomas community.

Towle describes the ACT! campaign as, “A multimedia platform for students to address their concerns in response to national and local racial justice issues.”

“It’s critical that students of all racial-ethnic identities have informal and formal opportunities to exchange personal narratives of either witnessing or experiencing racism. ACT! asserts the need to talk about how social constructions of race and the deeply harmful impact of racism permeates our St. Thomas community,” Towle says.

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The photo series has been launched today, with banners hanging over the ASC Atrium from the second floor. The video is set to premiere on the digital ad screen on the first floor of ASC Tuesday, May 3. The video will be displayed on repeat between 11:30 a.m and 1 p.m on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 4. Be on the lookout!

Students hope the ACT! campaign garners serious attention to the concerns of some of St. Thomas’ students of color. The ACT! campaign also aims to change the way the St. Thomas community thinks about racism and racial injustice.

Take time during the end of this semester to think outside of yourself. Hopefully, stories from the ACT! campaign help you see racial injustices affect more than just direct victims of it.

Thanks!

Heritage Month

AAPI Month 2016 Is HERE

 

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It’s that time of year again!

The last national heritage month we celebrate during the academic year is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. It is a time to learn about and acknowledge the issues, culture, and history of individuals and communities with Asian or Pacific Islander backgrounds.

Though it is meant to be celebrated in May, we start our observance of AAPI Month early so St. Thomas community members are able to make time for it before the hectic last week of the semester.

Before previewing some of our wonderful programs for the heritage month, here are a couple of questions we hope you find answers to as you learn from and enjoy the month:

  1. How diverse is the Asian American and Pacific Islander population?
  2. How does American culture affect the experiences of Asian Americans?
  3. What are the unique social and cultural problems affect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders?
  4. How can I be more mindful in viewing and interacting with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities?

With those questions in mind, here are a few programs that you’re guaranteed to learn from and enjoy!

Diversity Dialogues

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Our second annual Diversity Dialogues is tomorrow! As we prepare for Jose Antonio Vargas to visit campus on April 25, we will be screening his documentary Undocumented. A discussion on the experiences of undocumented immigrants will follow. You can still sign up in ASC 224 and receive a free T-Shirt!

And Still We Rise

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Hosted at the Luann Dummer Center for Women, this month’s And Still We Rise is a student-led presentation on popular culture’s fetishization of Asian women and its negative impact. Come learn from and discuss this issue with presenters Divine Zheng and Gabbie Ryan, as well as other interested folks coming through for the event!

Festival of Nations

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On May 7, SDIS and Residence Life will bring students to St. Paul’s annual Festival of Nations. The festival is an enormous showcase of the Twin Cities’ various ethnic communities featuring dance performances, cultural exhibitions, and a marketplace full of ethnicity/nationality-themed stands where food, clothes, and other goods can be purchased. Communities represented at this year’s festival include the Thai, Japanese, Taiwanese, Indian, and Sri Lankan among the wide variety of peoples there.


 

The last month of the academic calendar should not be an enormous, stressful cram session. Sometimes, the best way to relieve yourself of your problems is to interact with and learn about other people. Take the opportunities we’re providing to immerse yourself in something new, even if it’s just for an hour.

Hope to see you at our programs!

Uncategorized

On being American: Journalist, filmmaker–and undocumented immigrant–Jose Antonio Vargas to speak at St. Thomas

JAV new 4x6The University of St. Thomas Lectures Committee presents a lecture by Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas on Tuesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in Woulfe alumni Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

A Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, acclaimed documentary filmmaker, and founder of Define American.com and #EmergingUS, Vargas seeks to elevate the conversation around race, immigration, identity, and citizenship in a multiracial America.

After “outing” himself as an undocumented immigrant in The New York Times, Vargas was featured on the cover of TIME magazine as the face of the conversations about immigration in America, and has testified before the US Senate. His film about his experiences, Documented, has won several awards and recognition by multiple film festivals and associations and will be shown April 21 at 5:30 p.m. MCH 100 as part of Diversity Dialogues. (You MUST REGISTER to attend… Register now in ASC 224 and receive your FREE t-shirt!) View the trailer for Documented here.

In July 2015, he produced and starred in White People, a film for the MTV “Look Different” campaign about being young and white in America.

Vargas’ further contributions to the conversation include Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America, and#EmergingUS, a multimedia news platform launched in 2015 in partnership with the Los Angeles Times, focusing on race, immigration, and the complexities of multiculturalism.

In addition to his work on immigration matters, Vargas has had a prolific journalism career, including work for The New Yorker, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post, among others; he has covered a wide range of topics, including tech and video game culture, HIV/AIDS, the 2008 presidential campaign, and an acclaimed profile of Mark Zuckerberg. Vargas was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, and his 2006 series on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C., inspired a feature-length documentary — The Other City — which he co-produced and wrote. In 2007, the daily journal Politico named him one of the 50 Politicos to Watch.