Photo from ACHE
BY AILEEN ACOSTA
Drake University students will be attending the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in New Orleans from May 29 to June 2 to discuss actions that can be taken to improve equity and inclusion on Drake’s campus.
NCORE is hosted by the institute of University of Oklahoma and has the conference in different locations each year. This year’s location is New Orleans, while in the past years, it has been in San Francisco and Houston. It is an opportunity for action leaders across the nation to come together and discuss techniques that can help improve the issues of race and ethnicity on their campuses.
Tony Tyler, the director of engagement of student equity and inclusion, who will be attending NCORE for the fifth time is excited for what this year’s conference will bring back to Drake.
“The value of going to a conference that focuses on race and ethnicity issues is important because these are huge issues that (students) carry a lot of emotional and psychological weight with them,” Tyler said. “So, to go to a place that focuses on those issues for a while can be beneficial. Every single time (Drake students and faculty) go, they come back with action plans that we can work on and we have achieved.”
This one-week trip will be paid for by Drake. Tyler and the two other faculty members attending, Erin Lain and Samantha Becker, are using their faculty development funds to attend. The five students–Alejandra Diaz, Malique Miller, Rebecca Perl, Alex Radtke and José Garcia-Fuerte–have received funds from different organizations on campus such as Student Senate and Unity Roundtable to attend.
All five students who applied through a survey that Tyler opened to all the students at Drake will be attending the conference.
Alejandra Diaz, a co-pilot of the Flight program, which explores the diversity of student experiences on Drake’s campus, hopes to become more educated on the different techniques that can improve better education for people of color and marginalized students. She anticipates bringing new initiatives from the conference to organizations that she is involved in such as UNITY, Flight program and La Fuerza Latina.
“You can never become the ultimate know-it-all of race,” Diaz said. “Race is so complex, and we are always learning new things each day about it, so I feel like there is definitely more that I can learn. I want Drake to attract more students of color and the best way to do that is improving how our campus approaches race.”
Rebecca Perl, vice president of membership development in the Panhellenic council, hopes to bring back initiatives learned at the conference to sorority life.
“Self-education is really important,” Perl said. “I think NCORE is a good way to educate myself and bring that back to use what I learned in fraternity and sorority life to create a more diverse and inclusive climate. I have understood that at Drake’s campus, students in marginalized communities work hard to educate white students and it creates an emotional toll for them. As a white student, I understand that I benefit from white privilege, but it should be our job to self-educate in order to educate white people on these issues instead of going to marginalized communities to educate us.”
In the past years, students have come back with actionable items that they want to work on at Drake. One of the things that branched off of NCORE was Tyler’s position on campus and having an associate provost of equity and inclusion, which is Erin Lain’s position at Drake.
“We have some movers and shakers,” Tyler said. “The (students) going have been change agents on our campus and have potential to continue to be that, so I am excited to see what we bring back.”