As a means to promote diversity throughout the
residence halls and the entire campus, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens
Point Residential Living has developed a program that recruits students to plan
and implement diversity-related events and programs.
“It’s a leadership program, and these students receive
training and the opportunity to grow in these positions,” said Mary Duckworth,
Program and Assessment Coordinator for Residential Living.
Diversity Ambassadors, or DAs, are selected based on
their high school experiences, leadership and interest in UWSP. General
eligibility classifications are pulled from a state program called the Lawton
Grant. First-year students receive a free room in the residence halls and have
the opportunity to earn a $4000 grant towards their studies.
Today, the program has evolved into a two-year program.
There are two DAs assigned to each hall where second year students mentor the
first years. DAs are also actively involved within their hall governments and
through organizations around campus.
“You really get to know a lot of different people. I
make a conscious effort to teach or be the voice and talk to people about
getting to know others that are different than them,” said Diversity
Ambassador, Yomary Velez. “It’s the experience of having the opportunity to
talk and teach about issues that concern other people.”
Programming requirements are different with every hall
and each individual. Both Velez and the Burroughs Hall DA, Cornealius Cook, are
deeply involved with their respective halls and with organizations on campus.
Cook explains a program he put on with residents in Burroughs.
“I did a program called ‘True Colors’. Basically, you
break yourself into four colors and get rid of your insecurities. People are
scared of their insecurities. The colors bring out the positives in a person,”
Cook explained that he feels many people on the UWSP
campus are from smaller towns and want to stay away from inclusivity and
diversity issues because they do not want to be seen as racist or as someone
who offends anyone. Velez explained her role in this situation.
“We expose people to new things and teach aspects of
multiculturalism, racism, sexism and homophobia,” Velez said. “When people
think diversity, they think black, white, Asian, etc., but it’s so much more
Both DAs have similar experiences with being involved
on campus. Cook is active in the Black Student Union, SGA and multiple other organizations.
He is currently working with Ron Strege, Director for Diversity and College
Access to create campus wide programs to promote diversity.
“I’m forced to step out and get involved. I give
students a chance to talk about these topics in an open setting,” Cook said.
“It’s a great experience to think about yourself, but also about others.”
Velez is currently working on Cultural Blends, a
program featured in the Brewhaus, which deals with expression through language.
She explained that something has more significance if it comes from your
language or how you like to express yourself.
“Take advantage of the diversity that surrounds you.
Get to know more people. Understand why people think the way they do,” Velez
said. “I like to get people to think beyond themselves and those like them by
having a basic conversation.”
The program has been around for a number of years, but
new changes are being made each year to benefit the campus and the students
involved. With the major push for diversity and inclusivity on campus, DAs will
continue to be advocates on the issues students face.
“I believe very strongly in this program. I see
students find their voice on campus, and I’m excited to see this evolve into
something bigger,” Duckworth said.