EWU holds ninth annual Diversity and Inclusion week


By Karlee Van De Venter, Arts and Features Reporter

The week of May 11-15 was the ninth annual Diversity and Inclusion Week on EWU campus. In previous years, there were upwards of 20 events throughout the week, a variety of guests on campus and a big celebration outside. This year, senior director of Diversity and Inclusion, Kim Davis, had to change the plans completely. 

“Around when corona[virus] started becoming pretty prevalent, I really had to make a decision,” Davis said. “Cancellation wasn’t an option for me.”

Even though Davis had been planning and fundraising for on-campus events since September, she was ready to start planning a new approach. The week was planned and executed in about a month and a half. 

“I feel really really proud that we came up with a full week of events after completely changing gears,” Davis said. 

Davis knew she wouldn’t be able to have the number of events and guests that she’s had in past years. But she still wanted 1-2 events per day, some asynchronous and some live.

“We wanted to appeal to a variety of people and show that diversity is still on our minds,” Davis said.  

Dr. Deirdre Almeida, American Indian Studies professor, and Dr. Shari Clarke, VP of Diversity and Inclusion, talk at Diversity Award Reception in 2018. (Mckenzie Ford)

With a small committee to help with decision-making, they were able to come up with a week that Davis considers “a 100% success.” 

The week started with a live keynote address from writer and anthropologist Kiantha Duncan, along with a speech from President Mary Cullinan. According to Davis, there were almost 100 students watching live, and many requested to watch it afterwards. The video footage is available on the EWU Office for Diversity and Inclusion website. 

Also on Monday was the recognition of junior student artist, Sela Tran, who won the logo contest. Students submitted their logo designs to win a $50 Amazon gift card and shirts with their logo printed on them. The theme of this logo, as well as Diversity and Inclusion Week, was “Access Through Action” and is shown by hands holding up the globe. The sketch was turned into a graphic design by another student artist, Gavin Davis. 

Tuesday’s first event was the Lucy Covington Symposium presentation, “The Threat is Real: Tribal Termination Under the Current Administration,” and a panel discussion over Zoom. Panelists Jessie Little Doe Baird, Rhylee Marchand and Margo Hill discussed current issues and the dismantling of promises to Native Americans by the government. 

Keresha Richards, Eagle Entertainment Diversity Outreach Coordinator in 2017. | Sam Jackson for The Easterner

Also on Tuesday was the launch of We Are Eastern video, which has amassed hundreds of views so far. Edited by senior Gavin Davis, the video shows a “montage of representation of students, faculty, and alumni,” according to Kim Davis. 

Wednesday showcased an equity workshop available only to students who signed up beforehand. Led by Kim Davis, the workshop taught that everyone is needed in the fight for equity, not just individual groups. Students attending assessed what the fight for equity looked like as a minority group and majority group, and the differences between the two. 

“We could see people showing up and having enlightened conversations,” Davis said. “The responses from people were amazing.”

Following the workshop was a virtual art show of student posters regarding social justice. Students competed for first prize of a $50 gift card to the Eagle store, or second and third prizes of $25 gift cards. 

“[The art show] brought to light some of the issues in the world today,” Davis said. “Some of which I have never even heard of.” 

(Left to right) Nick Franco, Michael Reed, Lisa Logan and the rest of the President’s Committee on Diversity address hundreds of students at the Campus Mall for a rally to support immigrants 1/31/2017. (Brad Brown)

Third place was won by a poster illustrating mental health awareness in homeless communities by senior Jessennia Steinberg. The second place winner quoted Leviticus 20:13, showcasing homophobia in religions by an anonymous student. First place went to senior Chad Ohl, with the phrase “Born and Raised” under a remedied USA flag, featuring dollar signs instead of stars and a broken key instead of stripes. 

Thursday’s events were put on by EWU’s Multicultural Center. First was a presentation from the Equity Educators about dismantling systemic racism. The second event was a movie screening of “13th,” followed by a discussion. “13th” is a documentary about the criminalization of African Americans and the United States prison system. 

The week was capped off with an acknowledgement of everyone nominated for Diversity and Inclusion Awards, as well as thank you’s to all contributors. 

Dr. Nick Franco hosts the Diversity Dialogue talk on Jan. 29. Franco asked the panel questions on what they think the proper responses to sexual harassment might be | Andrew Watson for The Easterner

Kim Davis wants to remind students that diversity and inclusion is about everyone, not just specific identity groups. 

“It’s all about us coming together and learning about each other and understanding each other,” Kim Davis said. 

Considering COVID-19, Kim Davis thought it was especially important to recognize students for all that they do. According to Kim Davis, just because it’s an irregular end to the school year doesn’t mean diversity and inclusion can’t still be on people’s minds. 

The online-only approach cut a lot of costs for the event, but it helped bring out a lot of realizations. Kim Davis said she will definitely be providing some virtual aspects in future years to boost accessibility after realizing how beneficial online resources are. 

Kim Davis is also considering ways to include community members in the future, after many people outside of EWU requested to attend some of the events. 

“I’m really proud to be a part of EWU, and the fact that so many people are getting involved makes my job so much easier,” Davis said. “I just want to say thank you to our campus.”