The Office of Diversity and Inclusion promotes an educational environment that recognizes and celebrates the diverse cultures present at the University of Central Oklahoma. One of our fundamental goals is to cultivate opportunities for students to explore their diverse ideologies beyond their cultural norms through campus programs and events. This goal is met through the work facilitated by the eight student organizations directly advised through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. These eight student organizations are: Diversity Round Table, Asian American Student Association, American Association of University Women, Black Student Association, NAACP, Native American Student Association, Hispanic American Student Association, Student Alliance for Equality (SAFE) and S.T.A.R.S. Multicultural Honor Society.
Additionally, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion strives to promote leadership development and leadership exposure for underrepresented students. The goal of the office is for the students involved in the organizations to continue to grow and harness their leadership skills so that they can foster positive social change.
Impactful Event: March for Isaiah Lewis
“I will continue to advocate and seek justice for Isaiah Lewis and the countless others who have lost their lives…” — Kristi Rose, Black Student Association President
Upset by the event and looking for justice, Diversity Round Table, Black Student Association (BSA), NAACP and National Pan-Hellenic Council worked collectively to construct a march to raise awareness for Isaiah. On May 3, 2019, the students marched from the University to the Edmond Police Station, rain and all. Their advocacy did not stop there: there were countless calls to the District Attorney, and current BSA President Kristi Rose even reached out to Isaiah’s mother. On Aug. 24, 2019, the BSA held a carwash to raise money for the Lewis family to support them in their needs. When referring to why this cause was important, Kristi had this to say: “I chose to advocate for Isaiah Lewis because this appears to have been a preventable death. Repeated instance of excessive force against black men and women have become far too common in our nation. The media has shown it almost daily to the point that people are desensitized to the issue. I have yet to become desensitized, my heart is broken for the family, friends and classmates of this teenage boy that needed help, not death. I will continue to advocate and seek justice for Isaiah Lewis, and the countless others that have lost their lives…”
Impactful Event: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
“We wanted to bring awareness to campus to have people understand that this is happening everywhere…” —Savannah Anderson, Diversity Round Table President
In the indigenous community, there has been a rise of women who have been reported missing or murdered. Impacted by these events, the Native American Student Association created a week to raise awareness to this issue, called Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). The events for the week included an informational panel, a candle light vigil and a self-defense class with the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. In regards to the impactful week, former Native American Student Association president and current Diversity Round Table President, Savannah Anderson made the following statement: “I chose to create MMIW week because it is a continuously growing problem in the Native American community that was not being talked about in other Native groups. It is also a subject that my board and I were extremely passionate about. We wanted to bring awareness to campus to have people understand that this is happening everywhere. We also wanted to honor our sisters who have gone missing without being found or murdered without justice ever being served.”
Student Spotlight: Vivian Bunch
Vivian Bunch is a Panamanian woman as well as a member of the Cherokee nation. In the spring of 2017, she graduated from Morrison High School and began her next steps by attending the University of Central Oklahoma. She was an active member of the Hispanic Success Initiative and the Native American Student Association. As a current junior on campus, she is pursuing her degree in Human Resource Management with a minor in Spanish.
In her free time, she serves as the treasurer for the Native American Student Association. She was also selected as the Lead Peer Fellow for the Hispanic Success Initiative where she helps twelve Peer Fellows coordinate service learning activities as well as reflect and connect sessions with 50 current freshman. She has stated that through ‘the programs and organizations of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I have further developed a unique set of leadership skills as well as found a devoted community away from home.”