Report on Diversity and Inclusion

The following is posted in the interest of transparency and with the intention of improving the environment and climate of Sul Ross State University for students, staff, and faculty:

In April 2018, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee endorsed and submitted the following “Report on Diversity and Inclusion–An Inquiry into its Importance in Higher Education, its Status at Sul Ross State University, and Recommended Strategies for Achieving Institutional Success,” by Dr. Savannah L. Williamson. As of the date of this post, the report has been distributed to members of the University Executive Committee. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee is waiting to be put on the E.C. agenda to discuss the Report and its recommendations.

The pdf of the final report is available through the following link:

Final Report on Diversity and Inclusion

Any questions, comments, concerns, or recommendations may be submitted directly to Dr. Williamson or to the Diversity & Inclusion Committee through diversity@sulross.edu

-Savannah L. Williamson, Ph.D.

Chair, Diversity & Inclusion Committee

Assistant Professor of History

 

SAGA Promotes LGBTQ+ Inclusion On and Off Campus

SAGA Celebrates LGBTQ+ History Month

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 was a dark, cold, and dreary day in Alpine, Texas. But at the Ritchey Hotel and Saloon, the air was warm and full of rainbows as Sul Ross’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) hosted “Across the Spectrum: A Human Library.”

Crowds gathered at the Ritchey Hotel for “Across the Spectrum.”

 

A Human Library is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. At Across the Spectrum, Sul Ross students placed became “Human Books” who told their stories and provided information about the LGBTQ+ community to nearly 100 people, from both the university and the surrounding region. SAGA members also decorated colorful posters and placed trivia facts around the room to highlight different identities across gender and sexuality spectrums. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to ask questions about the LGBTQ+ community in an open and judgment-free space.

 

The evening, however, was more than just an educational one as SAGA raised over $225 in donations for The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization that works to prevent LGBTQ+ teen suicide. Across the Spectrum is also one of several events organized by the Sexuality and Gender Alliance in observance of LGBT History Month in October. For National Coming Out Day on October 11th, SAGA posted a colorfully decorated closet door, framed by a 300-balloon rainbow arch, outside of the University Center for Sul Ross students to metaphorically “come out of the closet” as members and allies of the LGBTQ+ Community on campus. On Monday, October 29th, SAGA will host a Halloween Movie Night by showing Rocky Horror Picture Show and hosting a costume contest.

SAGA students set up a rainbow balloon arch and a closet door for National Coming Out Day, Thursday, October 11, 2018.

The students of SAGA say that they plan to continue their work on and off campus to increase visibility, awareness, and acceptance for our LGBTQ+ population. In the month of November, the group will be reaching out to local businesses to create a Yellow Book—a list of local businesses and establishments that do not discriminate—to ensure that the campus and local LGBTQ+ community is included and safe in Alpine, Texas. This comes at an important time, as the Trump Administration has announced its intent to add a caveat to the non-discrimination policies of The Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) next month. The new rules would allow for-profit businesses and federal contractors to discriminate against employees and customers based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, with additional implications for intersex communities.

SRSU McNair Attends National Diversity in STEM Conference

Eight McNair Scholars, One Faculty Mentor
Eight McNair Scholars and one faculty mentor attended the 2018 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference in San Antonio, Texas. From Left to Right: Yelixza Avila, Olivia Enriquez, Dominic Carrillo, Juan Mora, Kaylee Plowman, Anissa Garcia, Itzel Soto, Noheli Gutierrez, Dr. Alicia Trotman.

SACNAS is an organization that promotes diversity in STEM disciplines. Their annual conference is a place of openness, in which every person is welcome to be exactly who they are. From recognition of National Coming Out Day on Thursday, October 11 to two days of student research presentations to the Native American Pow Wow on Friday, October 12 to the Pachanga! on Satuday, October 13 – all were welcome at the 2018 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference.

The Sul Ross McNair Scholars Program sent eight scholars and one faculty mentor to this year’s Diversity in STEM Conference. When the students returned from the conference this Sunday, October 14, they were asked to reflect on their experience.

Yelixza Avila
The main thing I am taking away from SACNAS is that who we are matters. We are allowed to have feelings and emotions, and those influence the science we do and our story matters. – Yelixza Avila
Anissa Garcia
It doesn’t matter where people are from or what they identify with, when we are able to come together as one, for the greater good and advancement of science, big changes can happen in the world. – Anissa Garcia
Noheli Gutierrez
SACNAS has created a platform where everyone is perfect and brilliant in their own unique way. – Noheli Gutierrez
Olivia Enriquez
Perhaps the thought that stuck with me most is that scientists solve problems because problems can be solved. However, predicaments cannot be solved, they are obstacles that must be overcome. Coming from a low income household cannot be “solved,” it is a predicament that is worked around. Being a minority cannot be “solved,” it is a definite state that doesn’t change. As most of us at the conference were low income minority students, we listened to speakers that were able to overcome their predicaments to solve much bigger problems in the state, country, and even the world. – Olivia Enriquez
Juan Mora
I loved that I actually got to talk to a person instead of going through a website. I discovered schools I hadn’t heard about. I feel more confident about presenting my research and knowing that I am able to follow a lot of the presenters. Testing my knowledge by seeing and hearing the others research gave me the confidence to pursue a NP/PhD. – Juan Mora
Kaylee Plowman
SACNAS made me realize that I am capable of achieving more than what I already have, and being a woman in a male dominated career path shouldn’t discourage or alter my belief in myself. Because I am adept in STEM where women like me have been told “no” continuously. – Kaylee Plowman
Itzel Soto
The SACNAS conference made me realize there are a lot of us minorities in the STEM fields. It made me feel empowered and I realized success in a STEM field is possible for anyone. – Itzel Soto

Next year’s SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference will be October 31 – November 2, 2019 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

For more information about SACNAS:
http://sacnas.org/

For more information about SRSU McNair:
https://www.sulross.edu/page/1345/mcnair-scholars-program

For more information about the Diversity and Inclusion Committee:
https://www.sulross.edu/diversity-and-inclusion-committee

Diversity and Inclusion Committee

RESPONSIBILITIES: The committee is charged with developing recommendations related to diversity and inclusion issues, including developing appropriate institutional responses to specific diversity and inclusion issues and:
1. Develop and implement introductory and ongoing cultural competency training for all students, faculty, and staff
2. Bridge the University with the Alpine, greater Big Bend, and Trans-Pecos communities to promote community-engaged scholarship by fostering education, outreach, and awareness
3. Assess, evaluate, and advocate for cultural inclusivity and diversity initiatives on campus, including the provision of a regular open forum for students, faculty, and staff
4. Review institutional communications, policies, and procedures actively promoting diversity and inclusion using best practices
5. Ensure a safe, welcoming community climate that values a culture of inclusivity including, but not limited to, ability, age, national origin, religious beliefs, ethnicity, race, gender, social economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression

MEMBERSHIP:
Committee shall consist of a no more than nine (9) members and up to four ex officio members, for a maximum of thirteen (13) members on the committee. Membership shall include three (3) representatives from the faculty, with one representative from each college; two (2) representatives from the staff; one (1) athletic program representative; one (1) student representative; one (1) community representative; and one (1) member to be appointed by the University President.
The ex officio members should represent the following areas: Assistant Director of Residential Living, Director of Counseling and Accessibility Services, Title IX Coordinator, and the Dean of Student Life.

TERM: Two-year tenure for faculty and two-year staff appointments, with up to two-year appointments for the student representative(s), and a one-year appointment for the community representative. Initial memberships will be staggered two-year or three-year terms.

CHAIR:
• Nominated by voting members of the committee.

MEMBERS:
Faculty:
Jamie Boyd, Assistant Professor, ANRS 2-year term
Liza Ware, Lecturer, EPS 3-year term
Savannah L. Williamson, Assistant Professor of History, A&S 3-year term, Chair

Staff:
Suyu Dong, Systems and Discovery Services Librarian 3-year term
Dominique Vargas, Director, McNair Scholars Program 2-year term

Student Representative(s):
Valeria Chavira, Student Representative 1-year term
Vince Apodaca, Alternate Student Representative 1-year term

Ex-Officio Members:
Melissa Rodriguez, Assistant Director of Residential Living
Mary Schwartze, Director of Counseling and Accessibility Services
Yvonne Realivasquez, Title IX Coordinator
Leo Dominguez, Dean of Student Life