Last spring, the CBE Diversity Council Communications Working Group sat down with some of the student representatives in the Diversity Council (Kat Golladay, Austin Bass, Kana Takagi, and Maimoona Rahim) and asked them to share experiences, their thoughts on the issues, and hopes for the future.
What brought you to want to be a part of DC?
Kat: I thought it was a good opportunity to engage in this kind of work in a collaborative, interdisciplinary way. I wanted to continue to work on JEDI principles because it’s something I’m passionate about in professional and non-professional settings.
Kana: I wanted to join the Diversity Council to learn how to support our diverse community. The more I learn, the more I realize that there is a right and a wrong way to raise awareness because many people and identities exist and it is difficult to support everyone. Not everyone is willing to listen and learn how to respect others as well. Even though we are trying our best to resolve discriminations that are already well known, we are still struggling to end them. Imagine how challenging it is to support identities that are not well known. Some identities and forms of discrimination aren’t well known enough to receive attention.
Austin: Advocacy within the built environment is something very important to me, and something I am already trying to put efforts toward as officer in NOMAS. When this position in the Diversity Council was announced, I immediately thought it would be another way to channel my passions for trying to advocate for minorities in the built environment.
Maimoona: My lived experience was a contributing factor. Also, I was on a racial equity committee at my last job, and enjoyed the work but more than that the community of people I could go to, who were on the same page as me.
Is there an experience you’d like to share that informed your decision to join the Diversity Council?
Kana: Being at NOMAS (National Organization of Minority Architecture Students). I joined a year and a half ago to support minorities who want to pursue architecture. I was saddened to know there are minorities out there who have abandoned their dream because of the discrimination they face. I want to continue learning how to help with that.
Austin: The knowledge that growing up, many minorities have less access to important resources that may be available to people of more privileged backgrounds. It’s important to bridge that gap in any way that we can. Not one particular experience or situation or day. Recognition of my experiences and what I’ve learned at UW, and recognizing there is a problem and a gap.
Kat: Generally my lived experience as a person with non-dominant identities, really drew me to this work. When I was an undergrad, I was part of a scholarly community called “DeSousa-Brent” (St. Mary’s College of Maryland) This was a group of people with non-dominant identities. A beautiful and powerful community to be a part of, and it drove me in a way to apply for this position. I wanted to continue to be in a community with like-minded values around this work.
Maimoona: The first BIPOC lunch in the fall that Megan Herzog spearheaded was how I found about the DC. It was an opportunity to engage in creating space for BIPOC folks.
What difference would you like to see in your field, and/or your academic experience at UW?
Kat: I would like to see more representation of folks with nondominant identities and JEDI principles incorporated more into the curriculum as well as potentially foundational JEDI training as part of orientation week for new students.
Kana: I’d like to see more classes with DIV credit in CBE. I had to take a class in another department and it’s a required credit. Would be great if we had more classes focused on EDI in CBE.
Austin: More representation within the Runstad Department of RE, and the Department of Architecture, and more representation of diverse backgrounds. I agree with what Kat and Kana said and would like to see a mandatory diversity credit OR establishment or recognition of existing classes that relate to EDI in BE.
Maimoona: In the UDP program they have an equity week in the fall quarter, where all instructors incorporate EDI in their curriculum for a week. I wish it could happen every quarter. I also agree there is not enough diversity and retention. In UPD there are 80 people and only 3 Black people. I can’t not see that every day.
What resources have you appreciated, or would you like other students to know about, regarding EDI?
Austin: There is a strong presence of cultural groups on campus. There are a lot of RSOs campus-wide. There is the Filipino American Student Association which makes me feel I have a place on campus. There are cultural groups for almost every type of background. Participation in those groups could make people feel like they are more included on campus.
Another good resource is the ECC. RSOs host events there and it’s very close to CBE. A lot of people within FASA like to study there. This is a place they can feel safe while studying with people of similar identities.
Kat: I’ve really enjoyed reading books like Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis, and So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, and am currently reading Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown. Some great Instagram pages I follow are @ndncollective, @blackwomenradicals, @igorot.sky, @theblacksyllabus, and @intersectionalenvironmentalist among others. I only recently became familiar with the ECC and the resources they offer but would like to look more into this group.
Maimoona: More information about what ECC is and what it’s for would be great. Citizen by Claudia Rankine is an excellent book that I recommend.
Austin: The Instructional Center, primarily for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or within the EOP program. Also around the corner from CBE. They might not offer tutoring for CBE classes, but for lots of other classes like math and chem, classes that CBE students may still need to take.
In order to join the Educational Opportunity Program: I had to go to Mary Gates Hall, had to tell why I was qualified. Qualifications include Socioeconomic, first gen, and/or underrepresented.
What else would you like to share?
Kat: I didn’t seek out this work because I knew all the answers. More than anything because I wanted to learn. I have really enjoyed being a part of this group and will continue to seek out opportunities for engagement around EDI work.
Austin: I would definitely echo that, I have learned a lot during my time, and enjoyed getting to know everyone on the DC
Maimoona: There aren’t a lot of chances to meet students from other departments and I have enjoyed getting to know the students on the Diversity Council