Jahvonta’ is a rising third year student from St. Louis, Missouri. He is double majoring in Leadership and Public Policy & Global Studies Security and Justice. This year, Jahvonta’ is very excited about working with hisco-chair to reinvigorate the committee to become more responsive, inclusive, and facilitating of our school’s multidimensional identity. Outside of Student Council he is the President of the Virginia Alpha chapter of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, a Black Male Initiative board member, and a member of the IFC’s Diversity Outreach Committee.
Sophia is a third-year in the College majoring in anthropology. She was a member of Diversity Initiatives last year and is excited about co-chairing the committee. Her goals include establishing a network of diversity-related organizations, and revamping the committee’s vision and outreach. Outside of Student Council, Sophia is a Career Peer Educator, volunteers for Madison House, and is involved with the Washington Literary Society.
Misha Alyssa Capuno
Edgard Espinoza Fernandez
The Diversity Initiatives Committee is responsible for promoting initiatives to improve the diversity of the University, and bringing issues pertaining to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and religion to the attention of the University.
Past Initiatives (Fall 2015):
- Flags on the Lawn – This new initiative was developed to showcase the national and cultural diversity of the UVA community, and make a public statement of this diversity in the most symbolic space at UVA, the Lawn, to tell all students that they are welcome here. Flags from every country represented by UVA students were set up on the South Lawn, and students took photos with their country’s flag as well as a statement of what their national identity means to them. In the spring semester, these photos will be assembled into a collage and displayed in a public space.
- Hooliday Dining – This is a yearly initiative in which Diversity Initiatives works with the Office of the Dean of Students to provide food over Thanksgiving break for international students and others who remain on grounds.
- Leadership Luncheon – Leaders from diversity-related student organizations were invited to a luncheon in order to network and discuss their organization’s work.
- Disability Acceptance Week – DI partnered with Institute for Global Humanities and Cultures to implement a week of programming that educated students on disabilities, encouraged inclusion and acceptance, and welcomed members of the community who have disabilities.
Upcoming and Ongoing Initiatives (Spring 2016):
- Student Organization Outreach (ongoing) – The committee is working to make email contacts with leaders of diversity-related student organizations and sit in on meetings of these organizations. The goal is to get to know student leaders, understand the work of student organizations, help them understand who we are as diversity advocates on Student Council, and offer StudCo resources and support to their organization.
- Interfaith Dinner – This yearly event promotes respectful dialogue among students of diverse religious backgrounds. DI sponsors a catered dinner attended by students with various religious affiliations, and partners with Sustained Dialogue to establish a lively discussion at each table. Because the dinner is so successful and well-attended each year, we are thinking of planning a series of 2-3 dinners this semester that follow the format of Interfaith Dinner but focus on different dialogue topics.
- Diversity Weekend – This new initiative will plan a week of events focused on sustainable dialogues on diversity. DI will partner with a variety of organizations to showcase student activism and promote engaging, ongoing discussion. This will be a week of events ending with a capstone dialogue.
- Diversity Calendars (ongoing) – Each month DI reaches out to diversity organizations to collect their events for the upcoming month. Then, we assemble these events into a calendar and work with Residence Life to post the calenders in first-year dorms and residential colleges. The goal is to promote these events to students and encourage them to engage with diversity organizations.
- Mental Health Town Hall – We are working on an idea to partner with providers of mental health services to students, such as CAPS, Women’s Center, and ODOS, to hold a town hall in which students can make their comments, questions, concerns, and ideas heard. This input will be taken seriously by the mental health service providers to improve their ability to help students. This idea arose from a common frustration that students are unsatisfied with the mental health services available to them.