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Student Affairs Expands Efforts to Support Underrepresented Staff and Graduate Students

DLDI mixer

Graduate students from the Higher Education Administration program networked and mingled with Student Affairs professionals on September 12 as part of the Diversity Leadership Development Initiative (DLDI).

Created by the Division of Student Affairs, DLDI was launched publicly in June 2017 to the Student Affairs Leadership Team. It is an initiative that focuses on creating diversity and inclusion professional development opportunities for student affairs professionals and graduate students that are interested in careers in higher education.

DLDI takes into account minority groups that have been subjected to challenges associated with structural diversity, racial microaggressions, acts of discrimination, isolation and upward mobility. To address these concerns, DLDI participants will be able to meet and seek mentorship from professionals who have been through similar challenges and will allow them to find a comfortable and professional community that will support them through difficulties. “You’ll notice that in higher education as you escalate it becomes less diverse related to gender, race and ethnicity,” said Jarvis M. Watson, EdD, Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs and member of DLDI’s Steering Committee. “It’s important that we create communities of support to show these students and young professionals that they are unique.”

DLDI mixer
Student affairs professionals and graduate students gather at DLDI mixer.

While the initiative was originally created to focus on staff members, DLDI was recently awarded a Presidential Diversity Mini-Grant to extend their efforts toward historically underrepresented graduate students. “We decided to form a platform where students can connect with us on a professional level and have real conversations that are not only transactional, but also transformational and authentic,” stated Dr. Watson.

DLDI focuses on implementing a comprehensive and strategic plan for career mobility, creating professional development workshops and competency building strategies, and improving a more supportive community through inclusive social, cultural, and professional events and initiatives. In order to help individuals become a part of these three key areas, DLDI aims to set up mentoring opportunities, and hold inclusive social, cultural and professional events. The first mixer, with the presence of student affairs professionals and graduate students, consisted of conversations upon the purposes and goals for this initiative. Alongside some pizza and cake, the mixer was great platform for diverse individuals to share their experiences. It was also an opportunity for graduate students to meet the DLDI Committee and ask questions about any concerns they had.

While the mixer was the first event for DLDI, they will provide six diversity workshops in this academic year. The upcoming events will include presenting to Higher Education  Administration (HEA) students at the Careers in Student Affairs Day, a workshop covering the NASPA/ACPA Professional Competencies Self-Assessment Results and a panel discussion with a diverse group of student affairs leaders.

DLDI’s next mixer will take place this Wednesday, October 3, at 4 pm in SAC Room 304.

For more information, visit the DLDI website.

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