Eloisa Gordon-Mora, the University of Nevada, Reno’s Diversity and Inclusion Officer, shared several updates to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in an email mid-January, including hiring five staff members.
Among the new staff are two full time employees, including Cheyenne Magpantay, an executive assistant, and Jovonnie Esquierdo-Leal, who works for the office as a program development specialist. Esquierdo-Leal is currently a psychology PhD candidate at the university.
The part-time employees include three staff members. Komaljeet Kaur works as the office’s web designer. Susy Ramirez will assist with external outreach, working to coordinate with community organizations. Daniel Scurggs will work with university resources and internal outreach.
Gordon-Mora was named the university’s diversity and inclusion officer in June 2019 by a university search committee. She filled the nearly year-long vacancy of the position after Patricia Richard’s resignation in May 2018.
Gordon-Mora also said in the email that she and her new staff would be designing two plans. A Climate Survey Action Plan, Gordon-Mora said, will include “strategic areas and actionable goals, including programming, workshops/training, policy development and assessment.”
The plan follows several forums held by the university to discuss the results of the 2019 Campus Climate Survey, which showed 71% of the respondents felt “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with the campus climate.
“We are combining the efforts of establishing an action plan out of the findings of the climate survey with a diversity and inclusion strategic plan,” said Gordon-Mora in an interview with the Nevada Sagebrush.
The Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan will aim to create a strategic plan for each of the schools at the university. Gordon-Mora said she wants each college to have an officially designated individual or group of individuals that will work as its own diversity and inclusion officer, much like the College of Liberal Arts’ Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, Daniel Enrique Perez.
“What engineering needs and where they are is very different for each school,” said Gordon-Mora.
Gordon-Mora said she hopes to have the plan complete by June, when the university is set to have a new president.
“Because of the presidential transition and the chancellor’s transition, I feel a sense of urgency that we have an outline of a plan before the individual assumes the role. If we leave it more undefined, it’s very likely that they’ll say, ‘Let’s wait until enrollments improve,’” said Gordon-Mora.
Gordon-Mora also announced improvements to the Hate and Bias Response team, including adding new representatives from the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, the Graduate Student Association, classified staff, Residential Life and Facilities. Gordon-Mora said there are over 20 representatives currently on the team.
Other improvements were concerned with the reporting summary site. Gordon-Mora said the site would be updated monthly, rather than on a semester basis. Gordon-Mora said the reporting site had added expanded descriptions of incidents and a column for the identity of the reporter, with descriptions like “academic faculty” and “student.”
These improvements come after the Hate and Bias Response team, created in fall 2018, was shown to have inconsistencies in its reporting practices last semester.
Gordon-Mora’s email also announced the university’s participation in the Reno Women’s March and the second round of a town hall series entitled “Free Speech, Tolerance and Social Justice.”
During this year’s women’s march, which occurred on Jan. 18, the university was an official co-sponsor of the march for the first time in its history.
The second Free Speech, Tolerance, and Social Justice event, which was held on Jan. 29, saw a panel consisting of Dr. Kelly Cross, Emily Dunster, Patricia De La Hoya-Velez, Jose Miguel Pulido Leon, KaPreace Young and President Marc Johnson. The event allowed students to pose questions that concerned free speech on campus, safety for marginalized students and the university’s role in these issues.
The last event mentioned in Gordon-Mora’s email is the Northern Nevada Diversity Summit, which will be held at the university on Apr. 2. The summit is themed “How Free is Your Speech?” and will host Emerson Sykes, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, as its keynote speaker. Gordon-Mora said the summit is an invitation for all universities, community groups and individuals.
This will be the seventh year of the event. Last year’s keynote speaker was Libyan-American journalist Noor Tagouri.
“We cannot expect diversity and inclusion to be this separate thing. It has to be experience, lived and supported throughout the university. From the hiring of faculty and the enrollments of students, to what happens in the classroom, to how you walk around, so therefore it has to be an active involvement of everybody,” said Gordon-Mora.
Taylor Avery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @travery98.