Story by Tessa Schutt, Reporter
Photos courtesy of Tessa Schutt
Despite the recent departure of beloved director Latoya Booker, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), located in Upper Moose, is alive and well. Aquinas alumnus and AQ Advantage Center Staff Assistant Ramil Collier has generously stepped in to pick up where Booker left off, assuming the position of Interim Coordinator. The Saint had a chance to sit down with Ramil and ask him about the functions, goals and hopes of the CDI.
A long-established office at Aquinas, the CDI “works to provide a safe space on campus for students.” In addition to its mission of creating a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere on campus, the CDI also helps coordinate and run on-campus events with the various cultural organizations at Aquinas, such as L@SA, V.I.B.E, the Japanese Culture Club and more. A calendar of these events for the 2017-2018 academic year is available on the CDI’s webpage.
In order to further encourage inclusion, and to educate the Aquinas community about different cultures, the CDI employs a number of Diversity Assistants, whose role it is to assist in the mediation and promotion of open communication, cultural understanding and inclusion in various communities on campus, such as in residence areas.
Kimy Patzy, a fourth-year student at Aquinas and current Student Assistant in the CDI, has held this position herself. Also a proactive member of the Japanese Culture Club, Patzy has been involved with the CDI, in one way or another, for the entirety of her time at Aquinas.
She describes her experience as a Diversity Assistant as a positive one. “As a student, I feel like I have more of a personal connection [with other students],” Patzy said. She believes that Diversity Assistants are a valuable addition to the Aquinas community because they give a voice and an outlet to students who may otherwise be uncomfortable expressing their concerns.
In addition to Diversity Assistants, the CDI offers the opportunity for peer-to-peer mentoring through its EXCEL Mentor Program. Designed to “help [students] navigate college and boost cultural competencies,” the program provides students of underrepresented communities with a positive role model and friend. The program focuses on helping students achieve academic success, while simultaneously building an encouraging and welcoming network of friends and fellow students.
The CDI is also currently in the process of interviewing and hiring a new director to permanently take Booker’s place. As the CDI aims to always expand and develop, it is Collier’s hope that the future director will bring with them “a new, fresh perspective on diversity and inclusion, and how it relates to a specifically Catholic college environment.”
The CDI welcomes students of all backgrounds, and invites them to become involved with their mission of the promotion of equity and inclusiveness. Students interested in becoming involved with the CDI or any of its programs/related organizations should first consult the calendar of events provided on their webpage. They are also welcomed by Collier to stop in to the CDI to get more information, or to email the office directly at: CDI@aquinas.edu.