We live in confusing, dividing times. It seems society is pulling itself apart and criticizing identities. Fortunately, individuals at the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) work to minimize discrimination and prejudice in our campus community.
The CDI exists to help students feel comfortable in their identities on campus. Its mission is “to foster student success by providing engaging programs that create safe spaces for students of multiple social and cultural identities” (CDI, 2021). Their website discusses the specifics of their mission, including recognition of traditionally discriminated people and encouraging discovery of identity (CDI, 2021). These are achieved in workshops, group sessions, guest speakers, campus events, and other activities which bring people together. Opportunities are opened to connect with other students (like-minded or not). The events are all organized from one spot on campus: the Hamar House.
In the Hamar House, the CDI offers a few perks for visiting students. There’s a private lending library of books, board games, and movies for students to check out. Special accounts allow the CDI to track these materials so that others can continue enjoying them. These books discuss topics such as racism, sexual orientation, gender, writing, and other explorative themes. It offers a slice of different ideologies for curious students to explore and contemplate.
Another draw for coming to the Hamar House is the people and the beverages. Hot chocolate/coffee is served for those passing by who stop in the House. Along with these perks comes the opportunity to talk with staff about life and struggles. It acts as a small coffee house in which one can learn more about past and present oppression in different communities. At the same time, the banter of other students can create bonds transcending traditional student relationships. There’s a common goal of overcoming adversity that can bring people together. When it comes to exploring minorities, a program has opened across campus that allows the CDI’s work to reach beyond the House and their services.
The CDI has also spread the concept of Huskies Safe Places beyond the Hamar House. These spots were established to allow students of various sexual orientations to discuss their issues and explore their identities. These safe spaces are meant to challenge how universities handle sexual orientation amongst their students, as well as oppression imposed on someone from societal factors (CDI, 2021). They open spots for any student in almost any part of campus to talk and learn about other identities. Discussion and acceptance of these various identities is key to unifying the student body under the goals of academic success.
As those of us on campus celebrate Winter Carnival these next few days, it’s important to remember how our identities contribute to the campus culture. The CDI reminds us how great the Michigan Tech family is when everyone here feels accepted.