Tag Archives: diversity

Want Change? Take the Campus Climate Survey

The campus climate survey, why does it matter?

A diverse, inclusive and safe campus is an enriching and educational space. SSU prides itself on being diverse, but there is always room for improvement. The priority of the university  is that students feel safe, seen and included on campus. The need for more diversity in administration, faculty and staff and more programming about diversity and more are needs that have been brought up by students recently. There is now a clear pathway to SSU prioritizing these needs as well as expediting the programs that may put these needs in place.

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This pathway to more diversity is an ever-important, 20-30 minute Campus Climate Study. Great initiatives that have come from other schools that have done campus climate studies include gender-inclusive bathrooms, more diverse faculty, more classes about diversity and social justice and funds for more programming to enhance sense of belonging for all community members. Some of these initiatives already happen at Salem State but some that the community could benefit from do not happen on campus yet. They very well could given you take the short 20 minutes to complete the survey.

The survey is not just a diversity initiative, it is for all community members to voice their experiences in order to reach a better campus climate. Climate can be described as:

Lived experiences, cultural attitudes and perceptions.

How does it work?

Administrators have committed to making the changes that appear as needed from the survey results. It’s up to you to take the survey and let them know what we need. They’re willing to help the student body, they just need to know what we need to change in order for this campus to feel safe and inclusive.

“This is a chance for your experiences to be quantified into important data that will help improve the climate and overall experience of students” – Rebecca Comage, director of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs.

The study needs at least 30% student participation for the study to be statistically significant. There is currently only 7.8% student participation. Participating will help stop uncomfortableness from impeding your educational and extracurricular experience.

What’s in it for you besides a better campus climate? Once you take the survey, you’re entered in a raffle to win either:  a credit for an undergrad and grad course, up to $100 for any entertainment ticket, $50 clippercash, a $100 book voucher, a free meal plan, grad school app waiver and more.

How to get involved:

LOOK OUT FOR THESE FUN OPPORTUNITIES TO TAKE THE SURVEY AMONG PEERS:

  • Survey parties in residence halls this week (March 8th)
  • Spring Break Part 2: Survey Party in the Center for Diversity & Cultural Enrichment: FREE FOOD and information about the survey!

Take the 20 minutes to take the survey here, for a better campus climate.

Take the survey here and if you post about it anywhere, use the hashtag #wecandobetter.

Get involved in the University’s strategic plan

One of the best things about attending Salem State University is the incentive to involve students in the university’s development process. In other words, YOU have a say in the direction that the university wants to grow in. Want more social justice initiatives? Want more diversity? Want more civic engagement? The university is giving us the chance to weigh in on its future, and the futures of the incoming students. This is not an opportunity to be taken lightly.

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Picture courtesy of salemstate.edu

The collaboration committee has surveyed faculty and staff about what changes they would like to see in the future. It’s the student’s turn now to speak up.

Currently, the mission of the university reads:

“Salem State’s mission is to provide a high quality, student-centered education that prepares a diverse community of learners to contribute responsibly and creatively to a global society, and serve as a resource to advance the region’s cultural, social and economic development.”

The strategic plan is essentially the vision for the future of the university with specific tactics the university plans on taking action on – all supported by the mission. The new strategic plan for AY 2017 is focused on keeping up with the ever-changing world around us. This new plan is being constructed to reassess the priorities and goals of the university that will eventually lead to tangible changes.

The strategic plan of 2013-2016 focused on student success, diversity, and sustainability. This plan aligned the academics and engagement of the university with social justice and change. Some of the fruits of this strategic plan included the implementation of the new general education curriculum,  more combined 4+1 masters and bachelors programs, the veterans services center, the center for civic engagement, and more. These are tangible examples of how the university benefitted from its last strategic plan.

Now YOU can have a say in what will be in the next plan. The office knows that surveys aren’t the best way to get opinions out of busy students. They also acknowledge that the best way that students voice their opinions is in a room full of their peers, where they can bounce ideas off of one another. That’s why they’ve organized just that.

The planning committee formally invites you to:

Strategic Plan STUDENT FORUM

Date: Tuesday, November 15th

Time: 4:30 PM

Location: MLK Room

Please come out and provide ideas and thoughts on what should be included in the new Salem State Strategic Plan! Student voice matters!

Speaking of change please register for the Student Leadership Conference. Take time on Sunday to grow your leadership skills and hear from the powerful group “Dear World” as the keynote.

The Center for Diversity & Multicultural Affairs also invites you to “STEP Afrika” tonight in Vets Hall at 8 PM. Come see this transformative step group perform.

Diversity and Inclusion a Major Focus for Student Leaders

On Saturday, September 10, representatives from every student organization gathered in the Ellison Campus Center to be equipped with the information and skills to make them the best student leaders they can be in hopes of making this a successful school year. The program began with an introduction, then went into breakout sessions for each different position. Every executive board involves varying concerns and roles, so different training for each position is key. After lunch, there were two breakout sessions. The day ended with ice cream and a discussion on diversity, which tied into the themes of the day.

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The “Preferred Name Policy” breakout session focused on a new development in University Law: the Preferred Name Policy. Students may have their name on the class roster, canvas, door decks, and more that they prefer to be called. Why would a student prefer another name? There are many reasons. Some of those presented by Julia Golden-Battle, Assistant Director and LGBTQ Liaison of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, included: gender identity, unsafe circumstances, and international students seeking to use their American name. Julia then delved into a discussion on gender identity and pronouns so that student leaders can set a progressive example for the students they lead on campus, as well as the campus community as a whole. Learn more about the preferred name policy here.

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Image courtesy of transstudent.org

To wrap up the day, we ended with diversity and some ice cream. Rebecca Comage, Director of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs introduced herself and what her office does. Through their professional, graduate, and undergraduate staff, they educate the greater university community about the different populations found here on campus and throughout the world.

According to the school website, the office…

“…strives to lead Salem State University in sustaining an active campus community that embraces difference, and values the significant contributions of all its members. Through examining the intersections of identity, our community is challenged to think critically about issues relevant to diversity and social justice. By creating strategies that support historically marginalized student populations in achieving their goals, we cultivate an environment where diversity, academic excellence, and holistic student success are inseparable.”

After a discussion on why this is key to the SSU community, the student groups discussed how they could involve more diversity in their programming, and why it’s important for them.

College is a big change, and an even bigger community. For some students, it’s a much bigger community than their high school. Joining a club or organization can help students find a group that they feel that they belong to within this vast environment. They can find their school of fish in the big ocean of college. The more inclusive said group is, the more students may feel that they belong. That’s why the emphasis on diversity during this student leadership training was so important.

How will you include diversity in your group’s programming? If you already do, how will you emphasize it more? Why do you think it’s important?

 

Guest Post: Raspberry Swirl Does it Again

by Patrick Braley, Raspberry Swirl co-host and Alliance Member

Raspberry Swirl is an annual charity event run by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (the LGBTQIA+ focused group here at SSU that promotes acceptance and understanding of all identities). Raspberry Swirl has been a long-time tradition here at Salem State University. With 2016 marking its 15th year, it is always something to hotly anticipate for both SSU students and those in the broader community alike. With each passing year, attendance seems to be increasing, with this year marking the first year with over 100 show goers. The trend in recent years for Swirl has been bringing in a famous drag queen from the hit show, RuPaul’s Drag Race to headline the show. The person booked to headline the show will typically perform about 3 to 4 song/dance routines and may even host a mini-game which requires and encourages audience participation. This year, the Alliance was very fortunate to have Pearl (real name Matthew James Lent), breakout star of season 7 of Drag Race, as the headline act.

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Pearl, the headliner and a host for the Alliance’s “Raspberry Swirl”. 2016. Courtesy photo.

Pearl was a graceful presence both on stage and off. She was dressed in some fierce outfits ranging from a futuristic-looking multicolored jumpsuit to an all black evening gown (which went perfectly with the spooky vibes of Salem). She sang and moved with expert precision and her passion for performing really showed through. In addition, Pearl also helped to host a mini-game titled “Fiercest Walk” in which members from the audience were chosen to strut their stuff down the length of the center isle. The winner won the right to brag to all their friends that they had the fiercest walk in the whole place.

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Performer at Friday’s Raspberry Swirl. 2016. Courtesy photo.

There were also two other mini-games during Raspberry Swirl that were hosted by the event’s two hosts Patrick Braley and Eric Donnovan (better known by their drag names Ophelia Oats and Chamele, respectively). One of the most memorable mini-games was titled “Lip Sync For Your Life.” This game was inspired by the iconic last chance challenge at the end of every Drag Race episode in which the two lowest ranked queens are pitted against each other in a lip sync battle to determine who is able to stay on the show. During Raspberry Swirl, four audience members (two vs. two) went head-to-head to claim the title of lip sync champion. The first round had two audience members belting out Adele’s “Hello.” Although everybody sang their hearts out, there was only one winner in the end.

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Local drag queens at Raspberry Swirl. 2016. Courtesy photo.

In addition to having Pearl perform, the Alliance was able to gather several kind, local drag queens and kings from the Salem State, North Shore and Boston drag scenes. Our stage was graced with so many talented acts! The crowd witnessed everything from sickening death drops to glitter flying everywhere. Audience members clapped, hollered and “YAAASSS”-ed in approval of all of the performances. After the show ended some folks had the opportunity to take a picture with Pearl herself during the meet and greet portion.

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Salem State studen showing off their stuff at Raspberry Swirl 2016. Courtesy photo.

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Local drag queens at Raspberry Swirl. 2016. Courtesy photo.

At the end of the day, however, Raspberry Swirl is about much more than dancing queens or who has the best look; when it comes down to it, Raspberry Swirl is and always has been all about fostering a sense of community, donating to local charities, and above all having a lit, lit, lit time.