College of Arts & Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

In the past few weeks, there have been several messages circulated from our administration, and from organizations around campus, with common themes of community, the desire for hope, and the urgency for action. Like the rest of you, I am deeply saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd and the many other persons of color who have lost their lives unjustly. The suffering taking place around our nation is just a snapshot of a much broader social reality. We are all part of such a reality. As such, it is of fundamental importance that we step up and take a stance against racism and discrimination. We have witnessed the impact of our silence and our attempts to rationalize unjust incidents simply compound the suffering that persons of color in our society continue to endure.

I have hope. We have the tools to enact systematic change – knowledge and education. As the largest college at New Mexico State University, we have the privilege to teach almost every first-year student. This privilege should come with a profound sense of responsibility; what we do here locally has the potential to change the world. We must endeavor to use this position of privilege to make our society more just, for everyone, combat systemic discrimination, and shape future generations.

However, we cannot evoke such change by simply feeling the injustice or expressing our righteous anger. We must channel our energy in a way that transforms our emotions and conversations into palpable actions. I have always seen the College of Arts & Sciences as one that is deeply dedicated to the study and implementation of social justice.  Let’s honor the memory of George Floyd, and so many other marginalized members of society, by engaging in work that seeks to uplift each other.

I would like to ask each one of you to assist the College by committing ongoing support and expansion of the work that our Inclusion & Diversity Fellows have been conducting over the last year, leading to:

  • the growth of existing and novel academic programs and courses, like Ethnic Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Native American Studies, Africana Studies, Chicano Studies, and Border Studies, that can help create learning opportunities and opportunities for encounter and conversation;
  • the development of opportunities for learning, conversations, and exchanges for faculty and students aimed at promoting the understanding of diversity, biases, racism, and discrimination, not only within focused degree programs on social justice but across the entire college;
  • the development of training opportunities for faculty and students focused on Culturally Responsive Pedagogies, through readings, webinars, newsletters, and workshops.
  • the development of college-wide hiring protocols to promote searches which are inclusive and promote access to diverse audiences;
  • the establishment of a permanent body within the college to guide the development, implementation and assessment of college initiatives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Through our commitment to teaching, research, service, outreach, and leadership, we have an opportunity to make a difference in our world. Let’s work together to use the power of education and knowledge to impact present and future generations.

College Initiatives

The College of Arts and Sciences Diversity and Inclusion Fellows have instituted the following initiatives over the past year:

  • the growth of existing and novel academic programs and courses, like Ethnic Studies, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Native American Studies, Africana Studies, Chicano Studies, and Border Studies, that can help create learning opportunities and opportunities for encounter and conversation;
  • the development of opportunities for learning, conversations, and exchanges for faculty and students aimed at promoting the understanding of diversity, biases, racism, and discrimination, not only within focused degree programs on social justice but across the entire college;
  • the development of training opportunities for faculty and students focused on Culturally Responsive Pedagogies, through readings, webinars, newsletters, and workshops.
  • the development of college-wide hiring protocols to promote searches which are inclusive and promote access to diverse audiences;
    the establishment of a permanent body within the college to guide the development, implementation and assessment of college initiatives focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

In an effort to promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom, the College of Arts and Sciences will be hosting a series of training workshops for our facutly and staff on various issues relating to diversity. A few topics include:

Virtual Tour of NMSU Campus and Public Micro-Aggressions
This talk thoughtfully and welcomingly guides participants through an exploration of representation in art, statues, building names, and spaces on NMSU’s campus– with key attention to the historical and contemporary oppression and exclusion of racialized peoples and women. How does our physical landscape overtly and covertly promote aggression toward marginalized groups? How do we understand our lived environment in a time of global, intersectional anti-racist and anti-misogynist uprisings? These questions are being asked all around us, and now is the time to reflect on who we are as a university community and what our role as an institution of higher education can be. This talk is presented by Dr. Dulcinea Lara, Director of Borderlands and Ethnic Studies (BEST).

Creating Community and Kind Communication
Maintaining a clear and effective line of communication between faculty and students can sometimes be challenging. This is especially true for online courses. One key to good communication is to create a classroom community. In this workshop, Dr. Herrera and Dr. Longwell discuss the importance of creating a sense of community in the face-to-face and virtual classrooms between the professor and students. Creating a community of learners allows for a more respectful and robust dialogue. Building a relationship of respect and trust is also key, which is developed through our words, tone, feedback, flexibility, and sense of empathy. Through community and relationship building we can create a learning experience that is equitable and inclusive.

“Dime con quién andas y te diré quien eres”: Theories and Methodologies that Center Latinx/a/o Epistemologies and Pedagogies at HSIs
Dr. Judith Carmona Flores discusses how she employs pláticas~testimonios methodology in her work with Latinx/a/o students at a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) by answering the following questions: What is my approach to the study of Latinx/a/o students and how does my work contribute to the study of Latinx/a/o students in higher education? What ethical issues do I consider that are unique to the study of Latinx/a/o students in higher education? And, what opportunities for future research does my approach present? I conclude by offering consejos (advise) on how to continue en la lucha to decolonize academia through our teaching, research, and service.

Being a Black Student at a HSI (and not always being Okay)
HSI are slowly gaining recognition as diverse institutions, places in which one, mostly minority students, may feel a sense of kinship on campus in that they see others that look like them. Dr. Henrietta Williams Pichon discusses the assumption is that one minoritized group will create lessons learned that all could benefit from is simply not the case. Simply stated, not all minoritized groups are the same; therefore, a one size fits all approach does not always work within an organization. First, one has to understand the stories of those minoritized groups within the organization and create best practices that best meet the needs of those groups. This workshop will examine the Black student experiences at a HSI and how we can learn to assess when things are not OK and what we should or should not do about it.

Department Initiatives

Astronomy: The Astronomy department hosts an “Inclusive Astronomy” group that meets every week to discuss and work on current issues. Recently, the group has been working on a set of “story packages” connecting stories of people who are typically underrepresented in historical discussions about the field. Given recent events, we are experimenting with a weekly discussion about an article related to current issues.

Criminal Justice: NMSU Department of Criminal Justice Statement of Solidarity.

Geography: NMSU Department of Geography Statement on Social Justice.

Geological Sciences Diverstiy Statement:Everyone should have the opportunity to reach their goals, regardless of race, ethnicity, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, creed, religion, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identify or expression, disability, veteran status, marital status, medical condition, pregnancy, education, class, political affiliation, or parental status. A career in the geosciences is a great path to social mobility and we welcome students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds. We will make every effort for our department, our courses and our activities, to be open to all.

Governement“Statement Denouncing Police Brutality and in Support of Protesters”

Interdisciplinary Studies: The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies has created a webpage entitled “In Solidarity” to show their support and commitment to social justice. In addition, the department hosted “Pandemic Pop Up! A Virtual Film Fest & Culture Work Exhibit” with work providing different aspects of the world before and the early days of pandemic realities, with special emphasis on the vitality of overlapping cultures and communities and cultural practices.

Throughout the year, the Interdisciplinary Studies department hosts social justice events, largely focused on diversity & inclusion, such as:

(a) Feminist Border Arts Film Festival, celebrating the power of cinema as a tool to reflect on social issues and thought-provoking representations of identity and difference.

(b) Transnational Solidarity Day promotes a day of solidarity focusing on harsh truths of living in a border city with an eye to effecting positive change.

(c) Social Justice Zine is an annual zine produced each spring that features essays, personal narratives, poetry, interviews, photography, comics, and art that explores issues of identity and differences from intersectional and transnational perspectives. The zine is dedicated to social justice issues, decolonizing strategies, queer and LGBT+ perspectives, dis/ability approaches, migration, the environment, and feminism.

Sociology: NMSU Department of Sociology Statement of Solidarity.

Theatre Arts: NMSU Department of Theatre Arts Equity and Inclusion Initiatives.

Universtiy Art Museum: In 2016 we prepared new missions for both the University Art Museum (UAM) and the NMSU Permanent Art Collection that pledge to diversify our programming and collections by exhibiting and collecting significant works by leading African American, female, LGBTQ and other underrepresented and marginalized artists. Committing ourselves to this mission in 2020, with the opening of the new UAM in Devasthali hall, the museum has taken action by producing carefully and thoughtfully planned exhibitions that highlight important social events taking place worldwide. Starting with our current curated exhibition, Labor: Motherhood & Art in 2020, the UAM has provided a platform to artist mothers, which is historically an underrepresented and undervalued section of the art world. COVID-altered Labor programming, now all online, is targeted towards our local, regional and national communities and mothers and children. With this first exhibition, and with all programming going forward, the UAM asserts ourselves as a hub for creativity, collaboration, acceptance and a safe space that welcomes all members of our on-campus and off-campus community to come together to mourn, relearn, hear and understand how we will attain social justice and reform through thoughtful interaction with art and artists. A message of solidarity from the UAM.