Photo by Genevieve Humphreys
When you walk into the Diversity and Inclusion Office (DIO) — nestled behind the stairs of the Coates Center — you will find a cozy open space with tables, a decorated white board and chairs where students might be working or simply hanging out together between classes.
The DIO provides resources and a safe space for all people in the Trinity community — especially ensuring these for minority groups in terms of race and ethnicity, sexuality and gender or low-income students.
While many students are aware of the many events that the DIO puts on and sponsors events such as workshops and the MLK lecture by Ijeoma Oluo, most may not know about the day-to-day tasks involved in working at the DIO.
The office itself was created two years ago and serves many purposes within the Trinity community.
Senior Tyler Cagle, student assistant at the DIO, works five days a week manning the reception desk. His job involves greeting and helping everyone who comes into the office.
He was hired by Roman at the end of last year to continue building upon the First Generation Underrepresented Student Mentorship Program, which he started two years ago.
“My main responsibility for that role is to make sure that mentors and their mentees are paired up to the right people within the first generation student program,” Cagle said. “I’m also responsible for any social events we do, so like on the 27 we have a study night that we do, and we’ll do a few of those in a semester. We’ll do a bowling night and just go do fun stuff. In between those scheduling events, I do office work around to help Alli Roman with whatever she needs. Like today, I helped her set up her table [at Super Nacho Hour].”
Cagle described what it is like to work at the office.
“The atmosphere is really positive and inclusive … You do truly feel that sense of being welcome whenever you walk in here. I’ll overhear students just talking about the things they might have experienced. Mostly it’s positive stuff though, so it’s just nice to see people come together regardless of background and everything,” Cagle said.
Sophomore Camille Johnson is a student assistant at the DIO. She also works five days a week at the office this semester, usually in the afternoons.
“Even when I’m not working, I’m usually here. I spend a solid 80 percent of time on upper campus in this room,” Johnson said.
Cagle and Johnson are just two of the six students assistants who are employed to facilitate office work and help students who come in.
“Some of the responsibilities we have, outside of just general office work, is that a lot of us have our different spheres of influence. So we each take on different projects or programming that kind of relates to that sphere we’re in,” Johnson said, “One thing I do is help student leaders for different student organizations, usually cultural ones, putting on monthly meetings for them to come talk to each other about intersectionality, ways they can improve and boost each other up, as well as how to support student leaders in that situation.”
The back area of the Office houses the office of Alli Roman, the director for DIO. Roman, as director, has a different and busier role.
“I can honestly say that — I feel like this is cliché but it’s the truth — no two days are the same. Sometimes I’m in meetings thinking about overall campus climate and strategizing different ways to think about this work because DIO is new and it’s the first time we have such an office,” Roman said, “It’s important to think about the things we want to try that are new and different and innovative.”
On a daily basis, Roman also meets with and connects students, providing a space for them to share their challenges and experiences and giving them support and resources. She has a full schedule communicating with students as well as faculty and staff, giving workshops and trainings and starting conversions about allyship and other DIO-related issues.
“I think one of my favorite things that I do is being able to see a student and work with them … Being able to see them through this process and see how they grow as leaders, see how they grapple with issues of social justice across campus or locally,” Roman said.
In addition, the DIO has been especially busy planning the various events this month.
Roman and with some of the DIO student assistants and social justice peer educators, who also work with the office, were on table duty at Super Nacho Hour from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. last Wednesday, Feb. 20. They were advertising for their Solidarity Summit event which took place on Friday, Feb. 22.
Arisha Ali, junior and social justice peer educator, was also taking part in tabling at the Super Nacho Hour.
Social justice peer educators meet for about two hours every other week in order to plan and organize any events coming up. They were also involved in the MLK march earlier this month.
“[We’re here] if any student organizations need any trainings. Many Greek life organizations have requested trainings on allyship recently, so the peer educators are there to go these organizations and have these trainings for them. Another group of faculty or students had asked for a training on pedagogy, so we had done our research and went to do those,” Ali said.
All students are encouraged and welcome to attend DIO-sponsored events and visit the DIO, which is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday and until 5 p.m. on Fridays.