My Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity is a worthy goal for any institution because it widens perspective, fosters an understanding of difference, and promotes personal and scholarly growth for everyone. But diversity without inclusion is empty. Inclusion only occurs through access and the proper environment. Students and scholars need access to resources, to mentors, and to opportunities. We must recognize that some are fortunate enough to already have that access while others are not. The goal is to have each and every student starting from the same position of access so that they can truly display their excellence and full potential. After access, a sincerely inclusive environment requires a climate of belonging and recognition. I have spent several years actively working for the continual improvement of climate, inclusivity, diversity, and the creation of pathways (access) to success for marginalized and underrepresented students at all levels of the university.
Within my own classroom I am consciously perceptive of who is populating the classroom and who is speaking. This informs my efforts to allow the less-represented time to be heard. I find it important that all students are able to get their views heard, and a classroom containing diverse experiences makes for more interesting conversations and more potential for growth. Sometimes difference creates conflict and I am particularly skilled at managing classroom conflict in a way that does not alienate certain students. I also take responsibility upon myself to diversify my syllabi, meaning, I make an effort to include relevant texts from underrepresented philosophers. And finally, I gladly serve as a mentor, ally, and advocate for any student who wishes to seek such support. I make it clear from the first day of class that I have an open-door policy for any student regardless of race, class, disability, sexuality, or gender identity.
On the departmental level, I served as the GA for the Philosophy department’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative with the purpose of examining and improving the department climate while increasing the diversity of philosophy scholars and scholarship. I coordinated a series of colloquium speakers, with research that pushes the boundaries of “canonical” figures and typical philosophical topics. They attracted wide audiences and filled large lecture halls with standing-room-only. We put together a series of professional development workshops for our graduate students where we discussed various issues, solutions, and best practices for diversity, climate, and inclusion within philosophy and higher education in general. We also organized graduate student symposia and sponsored a graduate-student-led, “Inclusive Philosophies” conference. And finally, we initiated a recruitment project for undergraduate women interested in philosophy by hosting a reoccurring social where undergraduate women could form connections and discuss philosophy with other women graduate students and faculty.
On the college level, I was a member of the Liberal Arts Diversity Action Committee for the College of Liberal Arts. We advised the dean on optional courses of action regarding issues of diversity and inclusion that were important to either faculty, graduate, or undergraduate students affiliated with the College of Liberal Arts. We were also tasked with interviewing new faculty candidates. I was also a Graduate Student Recruitment Coordinator for the dean’s office where we constructed an immersive recruitment event and research expo for prospective graduate students of color.
On the university level, I work with the Purdue Latino Cultural Center (a subsidiary of the ‘Division of Diversity and Inclusion’ for the Office of the Provost) where my job is to assist with strategies of recruitment and retention of Purdue’s over 2,500 Latinx students. In this position I build relationships of trust with undergraduate and graduate students where they can confide in me about their particular struggles or experiences as a minority in a PWI (Predominately White Institution). I seek and learn about all the institutional resources that I can share with them, whether that be news about scholarships, student legal services, counseling and wellness services, or student organizations. One of my more abstract job duties is to build community, which is so important for creating a sense of home and belonging, especially for any person of marginalized identity. We do this by giving them a space to be the fullest expression of themselves. We create events and activities that invoke a sense of cultural familiarity for Latinx students while fostering meaningful dialog about Latinx culture for everyone else in the community. Social and political issues confronting Latinx students and their families are openly discussed through forums or by inviting guest scholars and artists. Inclusivity means that we need to listen and take the experiences, perspectives and suggestions of marginalized identities seriously. We also frequently collaborate with the other cultural centers on campus: the LGBTQ+ Center, the Black Cultural Center, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center.
Having been a first-generation college student, from a lower-working-class Latino family, I witnessed and experienced the differences between attending a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) at the University of New Mexico, and a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) at Purdue University. I am so thankful for how much first-hand insight I gained into how the needs and experiences of students manifest differently in these contrasting environments, and consequently, the conversations around diversity, inclusion, climate, and resources were unique to each institution. I take everything that I’ve learned from experience to effectively advocate for the needs of my students as well as the personal and professional needs of my fellow colleagues.