This summer, the Guarini School graduate community gathered over several town hall meetings to discuss ways in which they could work toward dismantling structural racism in their communities, and as a mechanism for support towards that end. Facilitated by Jane Seibel, assistant dean of diversity and inclusion at the Guarini School, and the Guarini Diversity Fellows, the meetings revealed a passion for change in the graduate community, and students from across all programs set to work.
The inaugural Guarini Diversity Fellows organized the community response and, among other things, facilitated the creation of the Diversity Council, a group of students tackling efforts at enacting sustainable change across a range of topics.
Begun in January 2020 by the dean of the Guarini School Jon Kull as part of a pilot program, the initiative was set up to offer a range of leadership development skills across three key areas: activities, diversity, and international mentoring. Fellows were selected from a pool of highly qualified applicants who demonstrated a deep commitment to fostering the growth of the Guarini student body across each of these three areas.
The first cohort of Diversity Fellows (Alberto Ruíz (Thayer), Hector Sanchez (Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB), and Gretel Torres (MCB) took the lead in facilitating several Town Halls over the summer which was met with an enthusiastic response from faculty and students alike.
They were, as Sanchez stated, "the first step toward addressing the underrepresentation of student and faculty recruitment. I hope we continue to facilitate respectful conversations between all members of our community to address pressing issues."
The 2020-21 cohort of Diversity Fellows (Isaiah Díaz-Mays, Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Juan C. Mercado Del Valle, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Lessley Hernandez, Thayer) have taken up the mantle and are eager to carry on the work undertaken during the summer.
"Being a Diversity Fellow is an honor and I'm extremely happy to be working alongside Jane Seibel," states Díaz-Mays. "Having Afro-Latino and Latinx students lead these vital discussions will create a necessary improvement within the relationship between Dartmouth and it's BIPOC student population. We hope the upcoming events we're creating will have a long-lasting impact on our campus and in the rest of our community."
Working towards that goal, the next step was to develop a Diversity Council, coordinated by Seibel, to take up distinct issues that came to light during the Town Hall meetings. The Council, which meets every five weeks, consists of working groups of students from across the programs.
"Several groups of students had formed after the Town Halls," explains Seibel, "I invited all these groups to join a Council to work on their areas of interest. I compiled topics of concern heard at all the Town Halls and the five themes formed aligned with the small groups."
The themes are Student Recruitment & Retention, Professional Development & Mentorship Training; Faculty/Department Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Student Compensation & Resources, and Community Climate & Safety. As the work of each group progresses, the topics will also develop.
"The end product will be a large diversity document and also reporting out to the community after a year of the changes we have been able to make," states Seibel.
The next Diversity Council meeting will be on Thursday, December 3 at 4 pm. If you would like to join, please reach out directly to Jane Seibel.