Now Hiring! Become a Diversity Ambassador!

The UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion, in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs, is seeking passionate and self-aware UMKC students who have a demonstrated commitment to social justice, diversity, and equity to apply for the Diversity Ambassador Program!

Students chosen for this rewarding initiative will become trained facilitators of diversity peer education and intergroup dialogues. Each Ambassador will lead, support, and organize Diversity and Inclusion sessions and special events, with the opportunity to meet and collaborate with UMKC Staff, Faculty, and Community Constituents.

The Diversity Ambassadors are always representing the Division of Diversity and Inclusion, and the UMKC campus as a whole. These students will gain valuable interpersonal communication, facilitator, and leadership skills, as well as the opportunity to build community and relationships across the UMKC community.

Qualifications:

  • The Diversity Ambassador Program is eligible to any UMKC student after completion of their first year with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher.
    • Diversity Ambassadors who fall below a 2.5 must be in communication with the Division of Diversity and Inclusion Staff to make an academic success plan to raise their GPA
    • Diversity Ambassadors with GPAs below a 2.0 may be considered ineligible for the position
  • Attend mandatory three-day training on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday –  August 18 – 20, 2021
    • Students who have contracted to live on campus with Residence Life for the fall semester will be able to move in on the morning of Wednesday, August 18th.
    • Students must be prepared to attend training at 1 pm August 18th
  • Attend mandatory  monthly team meetings (specific dates to be determined)
  • Attend monthly 1:1 meetings with supervisor
  • Lead, support, or organize a minimum of three special events throughout the year such as conferences, lectures, and other large-scale initiatives
  • Co-facilitate a minimum of three trainings per semester (six for the academic year, minimum)
  • Maintain high communication with the Division of Diversity and Inclusion staff
  • Commit to the role of Diversity Ambassador for one full Academic Year (Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters)
  • Must maintain good standing with the University
  • Positively represent UMKC and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at all times
Benefits:
  • Gain skills, awareness, and knowledge of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Develop leadership, communication, facilitation, and organizing skills
  • $1,200 total stipend for the year –  payment of $600 upon the completion of each successful semester
**This role is contingent on funding for the Diversity Ambassador Initiative for the 2021-2022 school year

Trainings:

Trainings are available for UMKC students, student organizations and classes.

  • Embrace Diversity
  • The Science and Impact of Unconscious Bias
  • Understanding Our Privilege and Its Impact
  • Communicating Respectfully in a Diverse World

We are also able to customize to meet the needs of students. For more information on how to become a diversity ambassador OR if you would like to schedule a training or dialogue session for your group, please contact Lona Davenport  (davenportlm@umkc.edu or 816-235-6510).

Until We Meet Again: Vice-Chancellor Dr. Wilson’s reflection on DEI and retirement

To my UMKC Family,

Another new year has come around. Many of us are glad to say goodbye to 2020. COVID-19 changed the lives of everyone and every organization. We mourned the loss of loved ones, worked from home, and lived with a persistent fear of becoming sick. With the availability of a vaccine, hope and help are on the horizon. Like dark clouds scattering at the end of a rainstorm, the sun has begun to shine again with optimism and new possibilities.

A big change has also come about for me.  On January 4, I retired from my position of Vice-Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion. You should know that this was a very difficult decision, because I loved my job and more importantly, the people with whom I had the privilege to work. Yet I had to follow my internal voice, which was telling me it was time to rest after a demanding career,  spend precious time with family, and strike a new path.

Luckily for me, I will still be helping UMKC on a contractual basis. This arrangement makes saying goodbye less painful.

Nonetheless, I began to think about what words about diversity, equity and inclusion  I would leave you with. I hope these words are helpful reminders.

-Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work is never done. Never rest on your laurels and believe that enough has been done.

– DEI includes us all, and it truly is everyone’s job.

-Commit to being a lifelong learner, even when new learning makes you feel uncomfortable.

– Be brave! Venture outside of your comfort zone. Staying safe with the same people, places and things does not allow you to broaden your horizon.

-Always remember that we are preparing our students to be citizens of a global world. This means students must learn the capacity to interact with various languages, cultures, and customs, without negative judgment.

-More and more, the education we provide must be responsive to the ever-changing needs of our diverse student population.

I wish you all the best in your DEI journey!

With that said, I will not say goodbye.  I will simply say “See you later” or  “Arrivederci” meaning “Until we meet again,” in Italian.

UMKC’s Women’s Center May Have Exactly What You Need!

Images of Resources offered at the UMKC Women's Center
Images of Resources offered at the UMKC Women’s Center

By: April Brown, Senior, English BA

The University of Kansas City-Missouri is home to a lot of services and organizations that are dedicated to the betterment, enrichment, and support of students and staff on campus, as well as the community members that live and thrive around the school. Among those groups is UMKC’s Women’s Center, located centrally in the quad on campus. Their mission is advocating, educating, and providing  “support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community at large.” They’re known on campus for putting on programs such as the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, which is a mile-long charity walk to show solidarity for victims of sexual violence, or “I Can / We Can – Day of Action” which is an event that urges students to create pieces of art that represent standing against gender-based violence and share the art on campus to spread the ideal of strength and unity to other students and staff members.

This semester I started interning for the Women’s Center as their blog editor and for the first time in my entire college career, I am truly astonished at the lengths a simple service group will go to provide for and reach their community. I am becoming a passionate advocate for the center, and for all the work the student staff and faculty have put in during this pandemic to ensure the center remains as open and as available as possible. Like most of the university, the center has undergone many changes to accommodate the precautions needed to keep safe from the virus. Our office hours have been reduced. Now our physical office is only open from 10:00am-2:00pm Monday through Thursday. Further restrictions have also been implemented, such as the closing down of our in office kitchen, and  the enforcement of a “2 person in office at any given time” rule. Due to these changes, we, like many other offices and organizations, are hindered to an extent. Our staff is unable to work face to face, and we are unable to host as many events as the center usually does in a normal semester. However, not everything has had to change. In fact, there are plenty of services and programs that the staff here at the center has fought hard to keep exactly as they are.

For instance, the Women’s Center has always been a proud safe place for students, and being that we are a women’s center, we have specific accommodations for our students and staff who are female. Such as, we provide free menstrual products and safe sex kits for any student who may want or need one. Though it is a service geared toward women, any student, faculty member, or community member can stop in to our office during open hours and grab what they may need from our free supplies. We also have a lactation room that is private and cool for nursing mothers on campus. There is a mini-fridge in the room to store milk, and though the lactation room has been closed for walk in usage, it can still be reserved for appointments. The room is sanitized before and after usage, so women can use this room with no worries.

We are also still open to the public for the majority of the work day. There is always at least one staff member in office and we are always willing to talk with, listen, or provide for a student who may be in need. Our office is stocked full of brochures, informational pamphlets, and health supplies. We have information about shelters, food pantries, childcare, mental health and more. Whatever the issue a student may be having, the women at the center are dedicated to helping anyone resolve any issues as quickly and as safely as possible.

Also, maybe even most importantly, the Women’s Center is still putting on events to promote and advocate for gender equity within our community. Some have already concluded successfully, such as our “Say Her Name: The Invisibility of Black Women” panel discussion. Over 100 people tuned in for a couple of hours on zoom as we had an open discussion about the lives of black women, and the injustice and inequality they face every day in America. Some other events we have coming up though are the “I Can / We Can – Day of Action” taking place on Thursday October 15th. Though we are unable to open our office up for students to come make their art with us, we will be handing out art supplies and posting our own art on social media to encourage the creation of the I Can, We Can art. Though we cannot be together, doesn’t mean we can’t work together to end gender-based violence. On Thursday October 22nd we are holding another panel discussion on zoom, like the Say Her Name one, in which we will be discussing the prevalent subject of intersectionality. Also throughout all of the month of October we will be doing small, social media based and/or take home art-based programs and self-help tutorials to help boost morale on campus, educate our followers, and keep everyone mentally strong and healthy during this trying time. All of these programs are listed in detail on our Facebook page, and are mostly open to anyone who would like to join!

It took me until my last semester at UMKC to learn about this wonderful service group, and all the services they provide. I wish I had known about them sooner, and been able to partake in and take advantage of the things they do here. As the pandemic threatens to isolate us to an extreme we have never known, it has never been more important to get the information and services we provide out, not just to the student body, but to the community so they know they do not have to face the upcoming semester, or life alone. Visit the Women’s Center office Monday-Thursday, or tune in to our social media pages and take advantage of the community that is still very much out there!

UMKC LGBTQIA Mentor Program

Ally Photo at UMKC in 2019 - the 2020 Photo has been postponed due to COVID-19
Ally Photo at UMKC in 2019 – the 2020 Photo has been postponed due to COVID-19

By Kari Jo Freudigmann, (Pronouns: she, her, hers)
Assistant Director, LGBTQIA Programs and Services

UMKC LGBTQIA Programs & Services within the Office of Student Involvement facilitates the LGBTQIA Mentor Program as a resource for LGBTQIA+ Roos. This program pairs LGBTQIA+ graduate and professional students with other LGBTQIA+ students at UMKC. Mentors may offer support around:

  • Identity development
  • Coming Out
  • Navigating Intersecting Identities
  • Academics and Professional Development
  • Campus and Community Engagement

Mentoring relationships are active during the academic year. After applying for the program, both mentors and mentees will meet with the coordinator for a brief intake interview to help with pairing. Matches will be made based on similar identities, interests, and experiences.

Become a Mentee

Mentees are UMKC students who are seeking someone to talk one-on-one with regarding their LGBTQIA identities.

Apply to be a Mentee

Become a Mentor

Mentors are UMKC graduate or professional students who would like to mentor another LGBTQIA student. Mentors will be required to attend an annual training, monthly meetings with the coordinator, and at least two one-hour meetings with their mentees.

Apply to be a Mentor

LGBTQIA Programs & Services General Information

Are you looking for other ways to stay connected with LGBTQIA Programs & Services?

Are you LGBTQIA faculty or staff and want to increase representation and awareness on campus?

Baladí: a Community of Writers and Artists

By Daisy Garcia, Communications Major,
Iván Ramírez, Senior Student Services Coordinator, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs – Avanzando Program, and
Dr. Alberto Villamandos, UMKC Foreign Languages Chair

Through Baladí online fanzine many of our students find that outlet to express themselves and be creative. The fanzine currently takes pieces from not only students and faculty at UMKC but also Kansas City and beyond. There is no doubt that this has been one of the most difficult years for many people. If this year has taught us something, it would be to count our blessings and appreciate every moment of life.  This online zine does just that through poems, short stories, and illustrations. Baladí. An Arabic word defined as something of little value or not worthy of attention or appreciation. The goal is to find appreciation for those unpolished moments we all have during the day. In baladí 6 prologue, Daisy Garcia-Montoya, UMKC Communication expresses her view of the current world we live in and the hope we all yearn for as society. Because beauty can be found even among the chaotic the world may be. The magazine has reached its 6th issue, and has included contributions from UMKC students, artists and poets from Mexico, Cuba, and Spain.” – Dr. Alberto Villamandos, UMKC Foreign Languages Chair.

An article in Baladí by Daisy Garcia

Hemos llegado a otoño y estamos a tan solo unos meses de acabar el año. Un año que nos ha enseñado qué tan vulnerable es la vida y qué tan rápido llega a su fin. Este año ha sido distinto y no solo lo digo por la pandemia, sino por nuestra reacción de cómo seguir adelante aunque el mundo se vea caído. La humanidad es curiosa y a veces destructiva con todo aquello que no conocemos bien. Con todo lo malo que ha llegado en este año 2020, hay una emoción vista alrededor del mundo: esperanza. Es la esperanza de tener algún momento, lugar o tan solo un día mejor, que nos da la fortaleza para luchar y seguir adelante. Sin esperanza, lo imposible sigue siendo imposible y nada cambiará. Al contrario, cuando uno se llena de aquella emoción que nos hace sentir que hay una posibilidad de algo mejor, de un mundo donde nuestros sueños se hagan realidad, la vida vuelve a tener sentido. Es por estos sueños que seguimos luchando, tratando de aprender a volar para seguir adelante.

En esta sexta edición de la revista Baladí, la esperanza y camino a nuestros sueños es un tema común entre los textos. Poesía que nos describe momentos de la vida que hacen que valga la pena pasar por lo difícil. Palabras que nos hacen sentir y recordar que, si existe un día de mañana mejor, solo nos hace falta recordarlo. Versos que nos hacen reflexionar la vida mientras nos recuerdan lo frágil y hermosa que es.

Sea esta tu primera o sexta vez leyendo Baladí, hay una cosa que queda claro: después de seguir a la siguiente página, no pararás hasta que lo hayas terminado y te volverás un amante de la poesía, reflexiones, y coleccionista de palabras. Siempre hay belleza en donde tú la busques, aunque se vea un mundo de caos.

A veces hay que ver un fin para ver el comienzo de algo mejor.

A translation to English for those who do not speak a second language:

We have reached autumn and we are only a few months away from the end of the year. A year that has taught us how vulnerable life is and how quickly it comes to an end. This year has been different and I am not only saying this because of the pandemic but because of our reaction to how to move forward even if the world is down. Humanity is curious and sometimes destructive with everything that we do not know well. With all the bad that has come in this year 2020, there is an emotion seen around the world: hope. It is the hope of having some time, place, or just a better day that gives us the strength to fight and move on. Without hope, the impossible remains impossible and nothing will change. On the contrary, when one is filled with that emotion that makes us feel that there is a possibility of something better, of a world where our dreams come true, life makes sense again. It is for these dreams that we keep fighting, trying to learn to fly in order to move on.

In this sixth edition of Baladí magazine, hope and the path to our dreams is a common theme among the texts. Poetry describes moments in life that make the difficult worth going through. Words that make us feel and remember that, if there is a better tomorrow, we only need to remember it. Verses that make us reflect on life while reminding us how fragile and beautiful it is.

Whether this is your first or sixth time reading Baladí, there is one thing that is clear: after continuing to the next page, you will not stop until you have finished it and you will become a lover of poetry, reflections, and a collector of words. There is always beauty where you look for it, even if you see a world of chaos.

Sometimes you have to see an end to see the beginning of something better.

First issue of Baladí HERE

Take a look at the rest of Baladí HERE

Do you want to publish in our magazine? Please send an email to Dr. Villamandos

Black Lives Matter, Latinx and POC Lives Matter

If there is Injustice Anywhere in the world, then justice is at risk everywhere in the world.
“If There Is Injustice Anywhere” by edenpictures is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

By: Clara E. Irazábal-Zurita, M.Sc., M.Arch., Ph.D., Director of the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program and Professor of Urban Planning | Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design (AUPD)

I’m a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and encourage everybody to become so too. AND I’d like for the name of the movement and for its actions not to be —consciously or unconsciously— used to invisibililize the plight of Latinxs and other People of Color facing police violence and other manifestations of systemic racism in the US. There is a long history of Hispanics killed at the hands of police forces in the US from the early days of this country with no or negligible consequences to perpetrators because the state has not valued the lives of People of Color. In addition, Latinx history in the US is largely unknown. Particularly in the South and Southwest of the country, both Rangers and vigilantes cleared the way for westward expansion reigning terror, burning villages, and killing Mexicans and Native peoples. The Texas Ranger killed 5,000 innocent Mexicans in 5 years, from 1915 to 1920.

Unfortunately, both in those days and today, police brutality against Latinxs rarely makes national headlines. Currently, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) faces allegations of protecting “deputy gangs” of white-supremacist officers operating in Black and Latinx neighborhoods. According to Los Angeles Times (as of June 9), the police has killed 465 Latinxs since 2000 in LA County; and nationally, 910 Latinxs since 2015. Adding to the problem of lack of recognition to this reality, these numbers are likely undercounts, since many states report race but not ethnicity; Hispanic is considered an ethnicity, not a race; and many Latinxs are exclusively counted as either White or Black.

Three months before Gorge Floyd’s murder in May, Antonio Valenzuela’s murder in New Mexico also resulted from a chocking maneuver by a police officer. The news, however, hardly made it outside of his city of Las Cruces. A murder charge was filed in the case only after activists tied Valenzuela’s murder to Floyd’s and the BLM movement. Latinx cases of police brutality hardly garner national attention, and officers seldom face consequences. Between 2015 and April 2020, both Blacks and Latinxs have been killed at disproportionate rates considering their percentages of the population (31 and 23 per million residents, respectively, with the latter rate likely an undercount, as explained above), according to the Washington Post.

By calling attention to Valenzuela’s and other Latinx deaths, I do not want to pull the focus away from Black lives. Rather, I want to expand the BLM movement’s scope, consciousness, and impact, strongly conveying the need to also call attention to the suffering from policing, systemic racism, and invisibilization of the largest minority in the country—Hispanics—and other People of Color.

Say their names: Only from 2020, Andrés Guardado (killed June 8); Sean Monterrosa (killed June 2); Erik Salgado (killed) and his pregnant girlfriend Brianna Colombo (survived but lost her baby) (June 6); Vanessa Guillén (killed April 22); Mejhor Morta, Enrique Román, and Francisco Hernández (killed within 3 months of Guillén in the same military base, Fort Hood); and many others. It is true that, as many in the Black Lives Matter movement claim, “when Black lives matter, all lives will matter.” As we struggle together to get there, it is critical that we explicitly state: Black Lives Matter, Latinx and POC Lives Matter!

Join Now! Disability Alliance, UMKC’s newest Affinity Group

By Dr. Matthew Edwards, Associate Professor of Spanish,
Latinx and Latin American Studies, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

The Disability Alliance is UMKC’s newest Affinity Group! Together we work to advance the access, inclusion, and community for faculty and staff with disabilities on campus and throughout our UMKC community. For more information about upcoming events, meetings and a description of our current initiatives, contact Matthew Edwards (edwardsmatt@umkc.edu ). 

Asian Students In America, a strong new student organization ready to create community!

By Joseph Choi, Founding Member of ASIA 

When you think of Asia, you think of the continent and the many different people that represent it. Representation is something that all universities try to accomplish and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, this is no different. Many students rise up to the challenge and try to make sure everyone is represented, and the newly created organization Asian Students In America, or ASIA for short, is no exception. The foundation of ASIA was started with five visionary students, Gloria Mun, Marcus Theui, Julie Jong, Harman Shakur, and Joseph Choi. Working tirelessly throughout the summer the core five set out to create an organization that accommodates Asian & Asian American Students on campus. ASIA was started with the main goal to unite and to create an environment that is comfortable for Asian students on campus. With many different backgrounds, it is sometimes challenging to involve every type of Asian, but with ASIA, all are welcome to join. With 36 members in the first semester and 78 in the second, ASIA has managed to get a foothold in the organization ladder.

With such a large influx of members, ASIA made sure to keep the semester fully booked with events and activities in partnership with the office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the UMKC Counseling Center. Some of the events that were held:  ASIA’s Friendsgiving, Boba Tea Gathering, ASIA’s Spicy Ramen Challenge, and many other fun events. With every start, there is a goal and ASIA’s goal is to have the Asian community brought forward and to inspire new students and members to participate in the ever-growing organization. Goals set the bar and sometimes in order to reach that bar, there are necessities that have to be accounted for. ASIA wants involvement, not just from students, but also from alumni or other Asians in the community.

Reflections on COVID-19 and Xenophobia

By Dr. Susan B. Wilson, Vice Chancellor, Division of Diversity and Inclusion

The worldwide Pandemic of the COVID-19 virus has created widespread economic, psychological and educational impacts.  From the loss of loved ones, to job losses, educational interruption, and a plunging stock market, the pandemic has had many unfortunate and tragic consequences. Psychologically, people feel a profound loss of control that triggers fear, anxiety and anger. These emotions often cause people to scapegoat and blame others in an irrational way. And who better to blame? The person who is the “other”, who is different from us, is often easiest to blame. That’s where xenophobia comes into the picture.

Xenophobia, according to Merriam – Webster is “the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or anything that is strange and foreign.” The announcement that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China set off a rash of incidents targeting Asian people.  Examples include the use of “corona” as a racial slur, the avoidance of Asian restaurants, and racial attacks on Asians. As the pandemic spread across the globe, other groups were targeted based on their perceived threat of carrying COVID-19.  Moreover, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, commented recently that coronavirus “is shining a bright light” on health disparities in communities of color.

Healthy fear can keep us safe and free from danger. Yet throughout history, irrational fears precipitated the Salem witch hunt, the herding of Asians into internment camps, and lynching. Higher education—as a beacon of enlightenment—must set the standard for rational and informed thought. Critical thinking and analysis can be powerful antidotes to fear, loathing and discrimination.

In this time of crisis, we must challenge ourselves to unite and not separate.  We must draw on our humanity to fight fear and hate with good deeds and a swift response. Although difficult, drawing upon our reservoir of understanding, hope and optimism is more important now than ever. In the words of Nelson Mandela “People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Become a Diversity Ambassador!

The UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion, in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, are seeking passionate and self-aware UMKC students who have a demonstrated commitment to social justice, diversity, and equity, to apply for the Diversity Ambassador Program! Students chosen for this rewarding initiative will become trained facilitators of diversity peer education and intergroup dialogues. Each Ambassador will lead, support, and organize Diversity and Inclusion trainings and special events, with the opportunity to meet and collaborate with UMKC Staff, Faculty and Community Constituents and represent the student voice, within the Division of Diversity and Inclusion. The Diversity Ambassadors are always representing the Division of Diversity and Inclusion, and the UMKC campus as a whole. These students will gain valuable interpersonal communication, facilitator, and leadership skills, as well as the opportunity to build community and relationships across the UMKC community.

Qualifications:

  • The Diversity Ambassador Program is eligible to any UMKC student after completion of their first year with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher.
    • Diversity Ambassadors who fall below a 2.5 must be in communication with the Division of Diversity and Inclusion Staff to make an academic success plan to raise their GPA
    • Diversity Ambassadors with GPAs below a 2.0 may be considered ineligible for the position
  • Attend mandatory three-day training on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday –  August 19 – 21, 2020
    • Students who have contracted to live on campus with Residence Life for the fall semester will be able to move in on the morning of Wednesday, August 19th.
    • Students must be prepared to attend training at 1 pm August 19th
  • Attend mandatory  monthly team meetings (specific dates to be determined)
  • Attend monthly 1:1 meetings with supervisor
  • Lead, support, or organize a minimum of three special events throughout the year such as conferences, lectures, and other large-scale initiatives
  • Co-facilitate a minimum of three trainings per semester (six for the academic year, minimum)
  • Maintain high communication with the Division of Diversity and Inclusion staff
  • Commit to the role of Diversity Ambassador for one full Academic Year (Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters)
  • Must maintain good standing with the University
  • Positively represent UMKC and the Division of Diversity and Inclusion at all times
Benefits:
  • Gain skills, awareness, and knowledge of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Develop leadership, communication, facilitation, and organizing skills
  • $1,200 total stipend for the year –  payment of $600 upon the completion of each successful semester
**This role is contingent on funding for the Diversity Ambassador Initiative for the 2020-2021 school year

Trainings:

Trainings are available for UMKC students, student organizations and classes.

  • Embrace Diversity
  • The Science and Impact of Unconscious Bias
  • Understanding Our Privilege and Its Impact
  • Communicating Respectfully in a Diverse World

We are also able to customize to meet the needs of students. For more information on how to become a diversity ambassador OR if you would like to schedule a training or dialogue session for your group, please contact Lona Davenport  (davenportlm@umkc.edu or 816-235-6510).