Intercultural Equity & Advocacy (IEA) changes its name to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Harry Hobart, Contributing Writer

Formerly known as the office of Intercultural Equity & Advocacy (IEA), the renamed office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is a network of offices that assists the University community with the mission to “engage with, understand, and appreciate perspectives, people and cultures that may be very different than their own.” The decision to change the name was spurred by the addition of religious and spiritual groups into the network.

The University strives to create an environment in which diversity is embraced as well as celebrated. The understanding of diversity emphasizes the need to acknowledge the experiences of groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher level education. The network serves to include individuals in higher education regardless of “age, class, culture, (dis)ability, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, immigration status, national origin, race, religion and spirituality, sex and sexual identity.”

According to the University’s five-year diversity plan, in a better university, “diversity and inclusion are woven throughout the fabric of the institution.” The University offers a variety of diversity resources on campus in order to help students develop critical thinking and collaboration skills so that they can make valuable contributions in a diverse, globally integrated world.

Some of these resources include the Women’s Resource Center, Office of Accessibility Resources, Intercultural Equity & Advocacy, and Religious & Spiritual Life. For faculty, the University offers an “Inclusive Excellence Professional Development Series.” The series provides a variety of workshops which focus on topics such as being an ally to students, recognizing and mitigating implicit bias, moving beyond barriers, and developing a better understanding for our own cultural identities. Prior to the sessions, participants are given the opportunity to submit anonymous questions that are then addressed within the workshops.

Director of the Office of LGBTQ Resources Bill McCoy believes the office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is important because it provide support to students who have been historically marginalized. “The rebranding makes the network more inclusive,” McCoy said. “Before we changed [the name] most folks visiting the University had no idea what we really did.”

The goal of the network is to help students learn more about the identities, cultures, and experiences of these populations. Programs such as the “Inclusive Excellence Professional Development Series” have been instrumental in helping educate both faculty and staff so that they can do work to be more accepting. This program provides instruction on how to be more inclusive through the communication of information and making offices safe spaces for all students.

“Our goal is to engage every student in whatever way we can so students can leave the school with some cross cultural fluency” McCoy said.

With so many resources available on campus how can students get involved?

“Show up, each office does a number of programs and welcomes broad participation within the program,” McCoy said. He emphasized that showing and engaging in something you know nothing about is daunting but also can be very rewarding.

If you are interested in getting involved visit to look through the variety of different services and resources provided by the University.

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