Op-Ed: Angela Allen, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Pictured+is+Ms.+Angela+Allen%2C+the+chief+of+diversity+and+inclusion+officer+at+WTAMU.+

Provided by Chip Chandler

Pictured is Ms. Angela Allen, the chief of diversity and inclusion officer at WTAMU.

Angela Allen, Contributor

Located in the heart of campus, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion’s mission is to foster a safe and welcoming climate that will enhance the University experience for everyone who visits, attends or works at West Texas A&M University.

Sometimes, that work is joyous, such as when we take part in events like Buffs Around the World, which showcased culture, art, attire and cuisine reflecting the diverse population at WT. And sometimes, that work is more difficult, when anonymous commenters make offensive and derogatory remarks on social media.

Those comments do not represent the WT that I know, and they do not represent the WT that I know our administration wants to see.

But this incident does offer us the opportunity to reintroduce our office to the student population at large.

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion is located in Room 133-G in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center, next to the Nathaniel and Helen Neal Multicultural Suite, which provides a safe space for diverse populations and a resource center for faculty, staff and students.

Our office makes it a point to bring a variety of programs, workshops and discussions to WT with the goal of supporting campus-wide student learning. There is nothing more important to each of us than to be valued for who we are, what we do and the perspectives that we bring to our campus community, regardless of identity, culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, ability, country of origin or religion.

We strive to help our students to be the best they can be, utilizing their own talents and gifts to learn from individual backgrounds, and their own cultures and that of others. The advantages of diversity and inclusion programs is that they provide us with knowledge and recognition that we are not all the same. Through such programs we also recognize the differences within each culture while celebrating the beauty that is diversity. Students have the opportunity to gain more knowledge by being exposed to different experience and perspectives at WT.

And our diversity is ever-increasing. The demographics of our region include a growing number of Hispanics and African Americans. We are classified as a Hispanic Serving Institution, meaning that our overall, full-time undergraduate population is at least 25 percent.

As we recruit and expand the Hispanic population on our campus, our office works to ensure the success and learning experience of our fastest-growing population of Hispanic students, as well as for all students. In an effort to increase the retention of our Hispanic students, the diversity office has increased programing and workshops not only to celebrate our Hispanic students, but to increase the learning opportunities for all students, faculty and staff. Many of our Hispanic students are first-generation college students, and our office enthusiastically supports the F1RSTGEN programs in order to assist in the retention of students who may easily get frustrated and walk away. In fact, WT recently was named to the 2022-23 First-Gen Forward cohort with 52 other institutions around the country in recognition of our commitment to first-generation students.

Because student organizations add value in the retention for students, our office also supports Diversity Ambassadors, Hispanic Student Association, the Association of Latino Professionals for America, Black Student Union and many other student organizations in the various colleges.

We engage our students of color to ensure they are aware and using the student success tools offered such as the writing, math labs, tutoring and supplemental instruction.

All of our students learn and celebrate from the various programs and workshops through Diversity Week, Hispanic Heritage month, our Courageous Conversations table talks, and We Are One Diversity Talks. The Diversity Office also sponsors conversations with law enforcement to help build a rapport with students and law enforcement.

Everyone deserves to be valued, but sadly enough, you will always run into people throughout society who does not understand the value of others. We want every student to know that you are valued as an individual, just as we value the cultures and backgrounds that each student brings to our campus.

Above all else, WT is first composed of people. Students are our very purpose for existing. The Office for Diversity and Inclusion will continue to fight for the rights of our students.

 

About the Author: Angela Allen is the chief diversity and inclusion officer for West Texas A&M University who earned her marketing degree at Texas Tech University and her master’s in communication at WT. She is part of The Texas A&M University System’s National Association of System Heads, a strategic initiative aimed to ensure equity to achieve student success. In 2020, Allen was awarded the Chancellor’s Medallion from the TAMUS for her commitment and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion.

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