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Celebrating DEI topics with the ResLife Diversity, Social Justice, & Inclusion committee

April is Celebrate Diversity Month, but one ResLife committee aims to keep students engaged all year round

With over a dozen events this year, our committee has been hard at work spreading awareness and education about a variety of diversity-related topics.

The Residential Life Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion committee, which is charged with helping residents and students engage in their communities with a heightened awareness of diversity issues and related topics, consists of professional, graduate, and student staff members from across the residence halls. We meet regularly to program around diversity, equity and inclusion topics both within the residence halls and on the campus at large.

As a group, we have the ability to decide the topics we would like to highlight each year, typically revolving around identity or cultural awareness and history months. This year we’ve been able to do programming for Hispanic Heritage Month, International Pronouns Day, International Women’s Day, and more.

In all of our programs, we are incorporating education with an activity, to encourage students to attend and engage. This manifests as anything from Lotería for Hispanic Heritage Month to arts and crafts at our Multicultural Carnivale that featured seven holidays from around the world that are celebrated between November and January each year. We have also been able to put together numerous passive programs within the residence halls to share influential persons for Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), and LGBT History Month (October).

One of our most recent programs for National Deaf History Month focused on introducing students to the alphabet in American Sign Language through creating a door decoration with their name spelled in ASL. We also were able to talk to students about the history of National Deaf History Month, including the decision to change the dates starting in 2022 – something that we all learned about while preparing for this program.

We have always framed our committee meetings as a place to gain knowledge and collaborate on how to apply that knowledge to the programs we organize to best serve our students. Throughout the process of creating programs and finding information, we have the opportunity to learn more about these identities and cultures both from each other and through the research we do. Having these conversations and learning with our committee allows us to evaluate how our programs could be perceived and establish outcomes for the individuals who attend or engage with our programs.

We encourage residents to talk to their resident assistants and professional staff within their building about what programs and events they’d like to see within their community.

Marissa Arnold received a Bachelors of Music in 2017 and a Masters of Arts (Higher Education Administration) in 2020, both from the University of Nevada, Reno. She currently serves as the Coordinator for Student Leadership & Activities within Residential Life, Housing, and Food Services.

Marissa Arnold
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