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  • Tag: Diversity

    Los Angeles, 1963

    I was born in Los Angeles, and in 1963 I experienced the greatest moment of my childhood when the Dodgers won the World Series in a four game sweep over the New York Yankees. The city was euphoric. Little did I know at the time that this joy was built on the pain of a once-vibrant Latinx community. Chavez Ravine would be the eventual site of Dodger Stadium. Through eminent domain and other coercive means, most of the ravine’s residents were dislocated for a housing project that eventually stalled. The land was later conveyed to the Dodgers in 1958. As a result, the authorities forcibly removed families from the homes built by their grandparents.

    We see life through our own lenses, and the only way to broaden our perspective is to explore the rich kaleidoscope of other cultures and worldviews. By doing so, we gain a context from which to better judge our own values and approaches to life.

    When my mom and dad first took me to Olvera Street, the birthplace of Los Angeles, it was then, as it is today, a tapestry of art, clothing, jewelry, food, music, and dance. My dad was born and raised in Ecuador, and it was fascinating to listen to him speak Spanish with the merchants as they exchanged greetings and laughter.

    Hispanic Heritage Month

    Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs September 15 through October 15, 2021, is a full exploration of Latinx culture including, of course, the small slice I experienced on Olvera Street. Yet, we can never allow celebration to obscure inconvenient truths. Spanish colonizers were obviously not the first people in California. Millennia before they arrived, over 100 Kizh (pronounced keech) villages dotted the LA basin. One of their largest villages, Yaanga, was located near Olvera Street. The story of Spanish migration into the region and throughout California, Mexico, and the Southwest has its own brutal tragedies, and before the Kizh, who occupied these lands? Who might the Kizh have displaced, and what might be their untold story? History, culture, and heritage are ultimately an amalgam of tears and joy, agony and elation. The gumbo always has some fishbones.

    The importance of heritage month celebrations is not to uncritically acclaim but to discover and reflect. To the degree that we can all learn from one another, we can make progress. We invite the Michigan Tech community to consider Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 as an opportunity to better understand others and ourselves. Consider joining the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion for the Parade of Nations, held on Saturday, September 18, beginning at 11:00 a.m.

    DEIS Alumni Advisory Board Announced

    Alumni house at Michigan Tech.
    The Alumni House at Michigan Tech.

    Michigan Technological University is proud to announce the launch of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Sense of Belonging (DEIS) Alumni Advisory Board in fall 2021. A testament to the University’s continued commitment to enhancing and improving the sense of belonging for all at Michigan Tech, this initiative is the next step in giving our campus community the culturally-responsive resources to succeed.

    The DEIS Alumni Advisory Board will unite committed volunteers of varied backgrounds to support the learning environment at Michigan Tech. This group will assist with supporting the foundation of DEIS campus and alumni initiatives. Specifically, this board will:

    • Offer guidance and feedback to the Michigan Tech President and other University leadership regarding DEIS efforts
    • Use existing networks to cultivate and support diversity initiatives aimed at student body, faculty, and staff
    • Assist in identifying resources (programs, in-kind services and philanthropic) for MTU DEIS efforts
    • Serve as mentors/contacts for incoming, current students and recent graduates
    • Serve as MTU ambassadors and facilitate University branding that promotes DEIS in identified communities and networks
    • Establish, monitor, track and evaluate benchmarks by which to define success
    • Support an inclusive environment in all things Michigan Tech

    The DEIS Alumni Advisory Board will be facilitated and co-chaired by the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion and the Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement. Members will consist of committed alumni and friends representing a broad spectrum of talent from various industries. The Board will meet bi-annually for a day and half meeting. We are in the process of identifying and sending out invitations to board members for the inaugural board. Send any questions to More updates to come.

    Diversity—Why You Should Care

    by Wayne Gersie, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion

    Diversity comes in many forms: race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, ability, age, and socioeconomic background, to name a few. All of these characteristics contribute to one’s own experience and understanding of the world. How has diversity impacted your own life? For example, how diverse is your neighborhood? School? Place of work? Group of friends? And if our lives tend to lack diversity, why should we care?

    There are some compelling reasons to seek out diversity across all aspects of our lives. If you experience diversity in your everyday life, you will have regular exposure to people, cultures, traditions, and practices that are unlike your own. Such exposure enriches our lives, stimulates and inspires us, and deepens our understanding of the benefit of differences. Not only will you augment your social development, but you will also increase your understanding of the world and enhance your ability to communicate. You will interact with communities and concepts with which you are unfamiliar and gain an enriched understanding of life. Becoming a global citizen who has a broad understanding of the wider world will be of benefit, whether you are traveling to a new country, working with diverse co-workers, or just reading about events in the news.

    “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

    – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Diversity undoubtedly deepens and broadens your perspectives. Bringing together people from various backgrounds can help generate new ideas, transform vantage points, and catalyze methods for problem-solving that you may have never considered before. Quite simply, diversity fosters innovation.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, increasing diversity is the path to not just tolerance of differences but true acceptance and appreciation of them. Through contact, communication, and increased familiarity with people of many different backgrounds, we can diminish the misconceptions and prejudices that fuel discrimination. Strive for more diversity in your life. It will make a difference. When we listen and learn from others—and celebrate both what we have in common and where we differ—inclusion, belonging, and justice follows.