This semester, five new staff and officers have joined Binghamton University’s Division Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
According to their website, the DEI aims to foster diversity and inclusion along many dimensions, such as social, cultural and religious differences. They recruit, support and educate BU students and faculty in order to achieve a diverse and respectful campus community. Additionally, they conduct investigations into instances of discrimination and bias.
The DEI runs several offices and programs with a variety of focuses. One office, the Q Center, provides resources, events and training to support LGBTQ+ students and faculty. Two of the new hires joined the Q Center’s team.
The new Q Center coordinator, Nic Francisco, brings experience studying, presenting and hosting workshops on many issues of equity and social justice, such as prison abolition, intersectional feminism, campus sexual assault, homophobia and transphobia. They have many plans to expand and improve the Q Center.
“I hope to build coalitional relationships between the Q Center and other centers on campus that work toward diversity, equity and inclusion,” Francisco wrote in an email. “I also hope to foster more space and opportunities for LGBTQ faculty, staff and graduate students to participate and organize with and within the Q Center. Something I’ve heard from myriad faculty and staff already is that there isn’t really anything for LGBTQ people on campus unless you are an undergrad. I aim to change that!”
The Q Center also welcomed Nicholas Martin as the new assistant director. Martin has experience working with queer communities in residential life at Syracuse University and California State University, East Bay. At BU, he plans to update the physical Q Center space, expand Active Ally training, a program that provides education on LGBTQ+ related topics to the campus community and make policy changes to increase BU’s commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
“[This] will include the creation of an LGBTQ+ faculty/staff affinity group, required LGBTQ+-related training during onboarding of new faculty and staff and participation in LGBTQ-focused recruitment events for high school students,” Martin wrote in an email. “I hope to make it clear that the Q Center is here to provide general support and advocacy for the queer community on campus while simultaneously providing this community the tools to advocate for change and to continually improve the inclusiveness of the campus.”
Additionally, Anne Guanciale will fill a new position as director of intercultural affairs. In this role, she will facilitate connections between the multiple branches of the DEI. Specifically, she will connect the Q Center and the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC), which provides resources, education, training and recruitment to foster cultural diversity.
Korin Kirk joined as the coordinator for diversity education under the DEI’s UDiversity Educational Institute, which works with many groups to educate on diversity, equity and inclusion.
The DEI made changes to its administrative office as well. Ada Robinson-Perez, previously an assistant professor of social work at BU, joined the DEI as an affirmative action officer, and Tanyah Barnes, who was previously the associate director of the MRC, became the associate director of operations.
Maeve Kelly, a senior majoring in nursing, worked with the DEI her sophomore year as the vice president of public service in Hinman College. When an incident of racism occurred within the Hinman College Council, Kelly and her peers enlisted the DEI to hold sensitivity training for the group.
“I definitely thought it was helpful,” Kelly said. “They had a very interactive workshop with us and we also broke out into groups and shared our experiences. It was a very respectful, space place where I felt like everyone could voice their concerns and learn together. I think it’s amazing that they’re getting new staff because it will give them the opportunity to partner with more student organizations.”
Julia Diana, a senior majoring in biology, had not heard of the DEI, but was still excited to learn about their role on campus and how the expanded staff will strengthen the organization.
“I think it’s exciting,” Diana said. “I’d love to know what their goals are and I’m looking forward to seeing what new things they’ll bring.”