Inclusion Wins at 2016 Diversity Transformation Awards 

One of the five winning projects was #SilenceNoMore, by student Naomi McPeters, who uses student-approved photos and stories to break the silence around social justice issues. (Photos by Naomi McPeters) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 20, 2016) – This year’s Diversity Transformation Fund Award recipients were chosen from a wide range of innovative proposals. The projects show engagement with local and global communities and present film, theatrical and artistic exhibitions as well as symposia to help foster discussion and support inclusiveness efforts on our campus.

Created by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), the fund provides support to faculty and staff for innovative activities and initiatives that model and indicate inclusiveness.

The winning projects are:

#SilenceNoMore: Celebrating Our Diversity through Stories and Photographs: Naomi McPeters. The project is aimed at breaking the silence around social justice-focused issues which students have been afraid or unwilling to discuss. It will use student-approved photos and stories to help us “see” others as human beings with hopes, fears, pasts and futures. The goal of the photo exhibition, which will be shown from October through December in various offices around campus, is to increase empathy, compassion and understanding while eliminating false perceptions and stereotypes. For more information, see @UAlbany_SilenceNoMore on Instagram; UAlbany Silence No More on Facebook; or @UAlbany_SNM on Twitter.   

Building Empathy Creates Compassionate Communities: Andi Lyons. “Water by the Spoonful” is a 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Quiara Alegria Hudes that addresses themes of addiction, veterans’ issues and PTSD from a non-white perspective. The cast includes a diverse ensemble of nine actors -- Puerto Rican, Japanese, African-American and Caucasian. Local experts will be invited from campus and the surrounding community to discuss micro-aggressions regarding those living in poverty or dealing with substance abuse. Performances are November 16, 17 and 19 at 7 p.m., November 19 and 20 at 2 p.m., and November 18 at 3 p.m. A high school matinee will be offered November 17 at 10 a.m. The project will seek out and connect with local veteran and addiction counseling centers to promote understanding and advocacy. In addition, some local experts from those agencies will be invited to serve on a post-show discussion panel.

The Department of History Local Diversity Conversation Series: Maeve Kane, Richard Hamm and John Schwaller. The series will convene faculty, staff and students with local museums and community groups, including Partner for Albany Stories member institutions and the Albany YMCA, to identify and implement service-learning projects. It will include two roundtable discussions in September and October. Local public history representatives will be invited to discuss the current state of public history representations of communities of color and initiatives which focus on increasing diversity and inclusion. These include the YMCA Albany Walks for Health project and Schuyler Mansion and Historic Cherry Hill’s initiatives designed to represent the lives of free and enslaved African Americans who worked at these sites. In November, a one-day symposium will be held to develop specific service-learning student projects. The project will bring attention to the visibility and erasure of histories of race and communities of color, and the conscious and unconscious bias which erased these histories. It will also foster greater student and faculty understanding of the community needs service-learning courses might address.

Gabby G. by Naomi McPeters

"I have to worry about not getting opportunities because of my race, so a college education is a pathway to allow me to grow and provide a better life for my family. My greatest fear is failing when I could have been successful. My greatest hope is to reach true happiness in my life." #SilenceNoMore: Bullying & Self-Esteem. Gabby G. '17 (Photos by Naomi McPeters) 

Global Solidarity - Harnessing the Strength of Indigenous Communities around the World: Michelle Harris and Harvey Charles. The Nov. 7 symposium will highlight the successes that indigenous communities are achieving through the multiple lenses of indigenous knowledge, scholarship and pedagogy. Too often, the only narratives that frame discussions about indigenous people are those of ‘lack,’ disadvantage or misery. The symposium seeks to foster a different account of these communities by drawing attention to the lessons that can be learned from an interdisciplinary global perspective on indigenous matters.

Striving For Diverse Cities: A Documentary Film and Discussion Series: Carlos Balsas, Johana Londono, Shanna Goldman and Joseph Raguzin. The project is a cross-disciplinary collaboration among Geography and Planning, Latin American, Caribbean & U.S. Latino Studies and the School of Social Welfare. This fall, the organizers will present a film series featuring four movies that highlight neighborhood transformation. Organizers will seek to strengthen the study of social justice, diversity and inclusion and the eradication of poverty, while endowing students with the skills and awareness needed to identify, address and prevent unjust and unfair practices. The films include: Where Strangers Become Neighbours, which shows the transformation of one neighborhood in Vancouver, Canada, and how it developed intercultural conscientiousness; The Throwaways, which reflects on Albany’s social diversity and inclusion practices; My Brooklyn, which addresses gentrification issues in a once ethnically diverse Park Slope neighborhood; and The Garden, about the attempt to preserve a once-community garden in Los Angeles as it changes into an urban development.

“The University community is committed to advancing diversity and inclusion as core values,” said Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Vice President Tamra Minor, Ph.D., Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “This year’s projects demonstrate the variety of ways that faculty, staff and students are developing new and creative ways to promote discussion and enhance diversity and inclusion here at UAlbany.”

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