All Posts By

Patricia Conde-Brooks

Diversity, Heritage Month

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?






Dear White People Review By: James Mite-Excel! Research Scholar

dear white peopleJustin Simien, in his debut feature film Dear White People, challenges the flowery notion that we live in a color-blind and post-racial paradise in the age of Obama. With a great deal of flair and wit, plus equal parts humor and drama, Simien aggressively toys with the belief that racial tensions have suddenly disappeared since the election of America’s first black president, in fact as Kurt (Kyle Shelling) so graciously puts it “the hardest thing to be in America is a middle class white man.” This indie film addresses racial tensions and misunderstandings in a similar fashion as Spike Lee did with his early films School Daze and Do The Right Thing. In his debut, Justin Simien uses his excellent writing and awfully direct dialogue to approach these subtleties and micro-aggressions of society in regards to race, class, and sexuality. Simien sought out to tackle issues of identity, race, homophobia, and many more from the perspectives of four middle and upper-middle class black students.
Following the unanticipated election of Samantha White (Tessa Thompson), an aspiring filmmaker and DJ, as head of a traditionally black residence hall, a culture war between the privilege students and the black students erupts on the campus of Winchester University, a fictional Ivy-league university. Sam leverages her popularity as host of the provocative radio show “Dear White People” to challenge the somewhat uncomfortable truths about the interactions between whites and blacks. While the former head-of-house Troy Fairbanks (Brandon Bell), son of the dean of students, decides to disobey his father’s wishes by applying to join the staff of Pastiche, the college’s influential humor magazine, Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams), a gay aspiring journalist with an awesomely exotic afro, is recruited by school’s lily-white and well connected newspaper to go undercover and write about black culture, a subject which he knows little about. Coco Conners on the other hand, a “nose-job” (assimilationist) and aspiring reality TV star, takes advantage of the controversy on campus in hope to earn a spot on the up and coming reality TV show “Black Face/White Place.” The film’s climatic ending is highlighted at Pastiche’s outrageous annual Halloween party, and this year’s “unleash your inner Negro” theme causes a huge race “riot” at Winchester, ultimately dividing the campus in two.
Dear White People is more about the struggles black students on predominately white campuses have with defining their identities in a society inflicted by the disease of reality TV and cultural appropriation, and less of an open letter to throw shade on white people for their hypocrisies (in regards to race relations). The film’s ending sheds light on the recent outbreaks of racist-themed parties on college campuses across America with hopes to raise awareness about such issues. In the context of a prestigious predominately white college campus, Dear White People is simply an exploration of white privilege and the difficulties of “otherness” that many black students experience. This film is truly a great conversation starter that delivers a thought provoking subject, and successfully pokes fun at our guilty obsession with race.


2014 Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

2014NativePrideDancerswebNovember, Native American Heritage Month (NAHM), is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.

NAHM is also a time to educate the campus and community about tribes, raise a general awareness about the challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and to participate in a number of Native celebrations and traditions.

Heritage months can encourage and stimulate students to be aware of and think about groups of people different than their own. It can challenge people to think outside of their comfort zones and be conscious of the hardships other groups have endured. Events and celebrations engage and teach students about a group of marginalized people in fun and interactive ways.

While the months prompt awareness, they also spark collaborations among groups across campus. These groups come together in support of one another. During Native American Heritage Month the SDIS office will collaborate with numerous offices and groups on campus to join in the celebration.
For details of events please check out our NAHM page.

Heritage Month

UST Unidos-Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

hhm cover 2Over 52 million strong, Latinos are touching every aspect of the national landscape—pop culture, the workforce, consumption, politics and America’s identity as a nation. And from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the Latino culture and heritage, as well as the contributions U.S. Hispanics have made to the nation.
This period was chosen because it coincides with the independence celebrations of several Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile. It also coincides with the “Día de la Raza” (Day of the Race) celebrations that many Latin American countries celebrate in remembrance of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.
At St. Thomas, the Hispanic population is growing each year, along with Hispanic Heritage Month. Not only has Hispanic Heritage Month grown every year, America as a whole has a chance to celebrate the importance of this culture. People around the country take advantage of this distinct period and show their appreciation for the Hispanic people and all they’ve done throughout history.
More specifically, UST takes advantage of this opportunity to celebrate the Hispanic population around campus and holds special events most directly in their honor. Many of these events are meant to emphasize Latin America and to teach more about the way they live.
Celebrating diversity through events such as Hispanic Heritage Month is very important to the St. Thomas community, not only does it show support and respect for people who bring so many valuable contributions to our campus, but it also creates an overall campus environment that embraces differences and supports freedom of thought and expression.
Please join SDIS and our many others around campus as we celebrate the richness and contributions of the Hispanic culture! Check out the many activities taking place all over campus during this 2014HelpWantedmonth.


Heritage Month

SDIS Celebrates Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

AAPIMay is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month. Just as we celebrate the rich history and contributions of African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, so too we recognize, appreciate, and celebrate the vibrant and diverse culture of Asian Americans.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (formerly Asian Pacific American Heritage Month) is celebrated nationally in May to recognize the history and diverse cultures and honor the contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The SDIS office will celebrate during late April and part of May to accommodate the academic calendar.
AAPI came about when Congress passed a resolution in 1978 to designate a week to celebrate Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. They chose May because it’s when the first Japanese immigrants arrived in America in 1843, and when Chinese laborers finished the transcontinental railroad in 1869. But the celebration soon outgrew the constraints of a week, so President George H.W. Bush proclaimed it a month in 1990.
The View and T’s will feature a special lunch menu to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander culture. T’s will offer lunch from 11-2 p.m. April 28-May 2. Some of the menu items include Chinese Buffet, Curried Chicken with Rice, and Beef Steam Rolls. The View will offer lunch from 11-2 p.m. April 22-26. We hope you will enjoy these special menus crafted by the talented chefs here at University of St. Thomas.
On Mondays and Thursdays from 3-4:30 p.m. all month long we will have Purple Bench time in the office. Each day will have a special theme, and we will work on crafts to celebrate the top 5 Asian ethnic groups in Minnesota according to the 2010 census: Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Asian Indian, and Vietnamese. We would love for your students to come learn about Asian American and Pacific Islander culture.
Our big celebration takes place on Friday, May 2nd from 4:30-7:30 p.m. in ASC Dance. On the final day of Livin’ in Color Week, Student Diversity and Inclusion Services and Hana will celebrate with ASIAfest. Performers from CAAM Chinese Dance Theatre, University of Minnesota’s Mohabbat, and HUSA are featured. Traditional food from the top 5 Asian ethnic groups in Minnesota according to the 2010 census will be provided at the event. Please join us in this celebration!

Other resources


Expand your world, Explore your identity

parisJust as the face of America is rapidly changing, it is becoming increasingly important for students in the U.S. to travel and study in other countries. Study abroad opens a world of opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds. Whether you are interested in exploring your identity through your heritage, experiencing a third culture, or gaining professional and academic experience in your major, study abroad expands your world.
Student Diversity and Inclusion Services along with the UST Study Abroad office, encourage greater diversity in study abroad, particularly among students of color. Not only will your participation make you competitive for graduate school and in the work place, it will also ensure that our programs reflect the diversity of our campus and our country.
For minority students, studying abroad may present special challenges. These challenges may include discrimination, depending on how foreign cultures perceive your particular ethnicity. However, your ethnic uniqueness can also benefit you while living in a foreign country, providing you with opportunities that can be gained while studying abroad.
Minority students often discover that their uniqueness facilitates conversation, creates curiosity, and attracts people. Also students of color often find that they adapt quickly to their host community because of their minority experience in the U.S. As a minority in the U.S., you interact daily with both the majority culture and with other minority cultures, and this experience crossing cultural divides has prepared you to engage cultures and societies in other countries. You might find it easier to accept different perspectives and be more open-minded about different cultures.
If you are planning on studying abroad make sure not to miss the deadline to apply for out J-Term International Education Study Abroad Scholarships
Here is a list of great resources to help you as you decide your study abroad options.


Why Diversity Works

2014DiversityWorksWorkshopWhat was once only imaginable — a truly diverse United States population with many employment opportunities— is now a reality. Because of our nation’s current economic standing, more women, along with many other underrepresented groups, are now a part of the workforce.Accepting diversity in the workplace is extremely important and can help generate new ideas, it is important that this acceptance and inclusion begins and flourishes at St. Thomas. Every culture and every background brings new features to the table. As students and professionals, we should explore the advantages of the diversity around us. Learning from and with individuals from diverse backgrounds provide experiences that will us to prosper in a diverse global environment. By doing so, we will be enriched, relatable and successful.
Diversity prepares students for future career success. Successful performance in today’s diverse workforce requires sensitivity to human differences and the ability to relate to people from different cultural backgrounds. America’s workforce is more diverse than at any time in the nation’s history, and the percentage of America’s working-age population comprised of members of minority groups is expected to increase from 34 percent to 55 percent by 2050.
Diversity prepares students for work in a global society. No matter what profession you enter, you’ll find yourself working with employers, employees, coworkers, customers and clients from diverse backgrounds—worldwide. By experiencing diversity in college, you are laying the groundwork to be comfortable working and interacting with a variety of individuals of all nationalities.
Our Diversity Works-Moving Beyond Barriers event will provide an opportunity to hear a panel of UST alumni who will profile their career paths and offer advice to job seeking students from all backgrounds. A question and answer session will follow the program. This event will focus on the ever-changing demographics in the United States and why it is critical that emerging professionals are well equipped to comfortably thrive in a diverse workforce.

Additional information can be found:


Celebrating Black History Month at UST

In February, during Black History Month, Student Diversity and Inclusion Services and the St. Thomas Community celebrate the achievements and acknowledge the struggles of African-2014BlackHistoryMonthEvents2Americans. This is, of course, a year-round responsibility. We believe that Black history, like American history, should be studied 365 days a year. Yet we continue to view February as the critical month for recognizing the achievements and historical journey of the African American community.
Black History Month traces its origins to the first Negro History Week in February 1926, which was selected because it included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two key figures in the history of African Americans. It was expanded from a week to a month in 1976 by a message from U.S. President Gerald Ford.
Lectures, musical events, and a soul food dining options are events planned at the University of St. Thomas as part of our Black History Month celebration. These events integrate personal histories of triumph through art, discussion and performance. Find a list of these events on our web page, and be sure to like us on Facebook where we will share pictures and videos of our community while we together commemorate the meaning of this month long celebration.

Additional ways to observe and learn as the nation honors African American History Month during February can be found in the following links:

2014 Presidential proclamation

Knowing the Past Opens the Doors to the Future- NMAAHC Black Hsitory Month article


SDIS Offers Student Leadership Positions- Apply Today!

Employers love hearing that you took a leadership position while in school. Whether you were club president or head of the social committee, showing you are willing to step up to the plate and be a leader shows employers you can handle responsibility and manage people.
Student leadership positions are a great way to build people skills and gain leadership experience before you get out in the working world. A Communications & Journalism major, for example, can get a feel for the publishing world by writing or editing news releases as a SDIS Program Intern or creating marketing materials as our Social Media Coordinator Intern. A student majoring in Political Science can benefit from being involved in the planning of our educational events and/or serving as a Linkages Peer Mentor Program Interns.
Besides gaining valuable skills such as communication, teamwork , and organizational, Student Leadership positions are a great way to gain experience and enhance your resume.
The SDIS office has several Leadership Positions open and we encourage you to learn more about them and contact our office for more information.

REAL Program Adviser,student leadership
Linkages Peer Mentor
Program Intern,
Social Media Coordinator Intern

For a list of ALL other Student Leadership Positions please take a look at this chart

For more information on the application process visit this page.

Your college leadership experience will prepare you for what’s next—and now it’s time to learn how to use it. Remember Campus leadership experience can do a lot to show prospective employer what you’re made of!