Graduate Student Council hosts Diversity Week

April 23, 2015, 7:49 p.m.

The Graduate Student Council’s Diversity Advocacy Committee (DAC) is holding its annual Graduate Student Diversity Week from Monday, April 20, to Friday, April 24. Throughout the week, the DAC aims to promote conversation regarding diversity amongst graduate students through a series of panel discussions, hands-on workshops and free-form discussions. 

“The focus of the entire week is on diversity in general and trying to focus on inter-community discussion and some of the more broad aspects of diversity instead of trying to repeat what individual student groups are doing,” said Wendy Ni M.S. ’12 Ph.D. ’17, the chair of the DAC.

On Monday, there was a panel featuring graduate school alumni who detailed their personal stories of diversity, belonging and thriving in graduate school. Tuesday’s panel discussion concentrated on developing a sense of belonging among students from first-generation or low-income backgrounds.

DAC committee member Gabriel Rodriguez M.A. ’14 Ph.D. ’17 organized Tuesday’s event.

“I think the  [first-generation/low income] graduate population here has been trying to push to be more visible with groups like Grad FLIP [First Generation, Low Income Partnership], an offshoot of undergrad FLIP, that has started this year,” Rodriguez said. “This event was about transitioning into privilege and how to navigate that from such a background.”

Rodriguez highlighted the importance of communication not only within but also between the different diversity-oriented campus groups.

“The goal of the event was to get people to not only recognize that there is diversity, but also to get people to talk about it more and have cross-group discussion,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t want each group to go off to their own corner of campus and never interact. We want people to come together and talk to one another.”

On Wednesday, there was a leadership development workshop, and on Thursday, the DAC unveiled its confessions website to anonymously discuss diversity in the graduate community. Friday’s event is an Implicit Bias Workshop, a series of tests aimed at uncovering subconscious biases that individuals have.

According to Ni, addressing the issue of diversity in the graduate space presents the challenge of decentralization.

“As grad students, we are very decentralized and fragmented in various senses of the word – both physically and mentally – given that we are at a later stage in professional development and a lot of us are very focused on research, work or family,” Ni said. “There often isn’t an opportunity for folks from different groups to talk about issues that are common to them. That’s one of the motivations for DAC, to get people together to talk about issues that matter.”

Ni also highlighted the level of support afforded to graduate students as an example of the significant difference between addressing diversity at the undergraduate level versus at the graduate level.

“Most of the [student diversity] groups are more undergraduate focused than grad focused, though I do understand that a lot of them are trying to broaden their outreach,” Ni said. “And it’s a difference between who we are, where we are in life and the type of support we need.”

Ni emphasized the importance of recognizing and talking about diversity as an integral part of the DAC.

“Diversity matters to the broader community, not just certain individuals,” Ni said. “In academia, industry and in life, diversity matters.”

This article has been updated to include the correct graduation year for Gabriel Rodriguez M.A. ’14 Ph.D. ’17 . Previously, Rodriguez was listed as Ph.D. ’15. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Pallavi Krishnarao at pallavik ‘at’

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