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Diversity Week 2013

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The School of Communication in partnership with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion was proud to co-sponor "Share Your Story: Student Dialogues on Diversity and Inclusion 2013", AU's first Diversity Week.

For several years, the Diversity Committee for the School of Communication has been focused on the role of diversity and inclusion here at American University and wanted to turn their passion into action while recognizing student voices.

The week-long program honored the diversity that American University celebrates each day. The events scheduled included panel lectures, workshops, and open discussions about issues/topics such as cisgender privilege, political affiliation, women in Islamic cultures, multi-cultural matters, veterans, and safe space. The week was dedicated to students... and faculty and staff were welcomed to attend events.

The program began with a student panel discussion: "Our Voices: Students Sharing Experiences at AU" sponsored by the School of Communication.

The dialogue continued on Twitter with hashtag #audiversitydialogue


Monday, February 25, 2013
SOC Committee: “Our Voices: Students Sharing Experiences at AU”
Kick-off to “Share Your Story: Student Dialogues on Diversity and Inclusion 2013.” Students share their experiences on diversity at AU—from both inside and outside the classroom
Location: Butler Boardroom
Time: 1:00—2:30 p.m.
Pizza will be served

Students Say

"To even be given the opportunity to talk about what we go through, I feel is very important and this statement alone helped make the event successful. In the future, I would love to see more events like this on campus. I believe not only having, but also acknowledging the presence of diversity in any institution is what helps make it stronger."

Cara Bernard

Tuesday February 26, 2013
American Veterans--A Growing Student Population w/ Video
Val Verra, AU Veterans Services Administrator, AU Central
Many types of diversity are not immediately apparent, such as veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, and some forms of disabilities. American University's military population is made up of different sub-cultures, diverse to each other as well as to the campus at large. This session will address the challenges posed by invisible diversity, both to student experiences in the classroom and on campus and to faculty and staff interacting with these students.
Location: MGC 200
Time: 11 a.m.—12 p.m.

Students Say

"I never thought about the hardships, difficulties and obstacles they may face going to school after being in the military....Overall, this session was extremely informational. I learned a lot about a population I previously did not know about at AU."

Lindsay Muri

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Alumni in the KNOW
Speaker: Lori George Billingsley, SOC/MA ’91, Vice-President of Community Relations Coca-Cola Refreshments
Sponsored by: AU Alumni Association
Location: Butler Board Room
Time: Noon—1:30 p.m.
RSVP required

Students Say

"Billingsley stressed the importance and role of having a mentor. Her experience of finding and working with her mentor made me realize the importance of having one and it is now on my list of professional tasks to fulfill...This made me understand the importance of creating plans for the future and gave me the idea to create a five-year plan for myself."

Sam Wollak

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The Diversity of Disabilities
Sponsored by: Disability Support Services Program with Disability Rights Coalition
Time: l:30 p.m.—3:00 p.m.
Location: MGC 245
RSVP required: Email Jennifer Baron @

Gun Hill Road

SOC Film and Media Arts Division Director John Douglass (left) talks with Gun Hill Road director Rashaad Ernesto Green.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Hosting Director, Rashaad Ernesto Green and screening his film, Gun Hill Road (2011).
Gun Hill Road is the story of a family in transition. It is the story of a young man exploring his sexuality in an intolerant and judgmental world and his exploration's impact on his relationship with his parents and himself. A film by writer/director Rashaad Ernesto Green, Gun Hill Road was a finalist for the esteemed Jury Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and played at festivals globally in Spring 2011. Starring Esai Morales (La Bamba, "Caprica") and Judy Reyes ("Scrubs"), and introducing Harmony Santana."
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Wechsler Theater

Students Say

"The film reaches out to an audience that incorporates a variety of people from diverse backgrounds. The message of the film encourages cultural acceptance, and grabs the attention of people of all different types. Whether the person is gay, lesbian, transgender, a mother, a father, or however the person labels himself or herself as, this movie offers the individual at least one aspect that he or she can relate to."

Hyunjin Park

Wednesday February 27, 2013
Table Talk Lunch Series: Consumer Finance Protection Agency: Will it be Effective?
Where the University community meets to discuss matters of moral, social, and ethical concern.
Sponsor: Kay Spiritual Life Center Lounge
Time: 12:00 PM Lunch, 12:20 PM Discussion
Location: Kay Spiritual Life Center Lounge
RSVP required: Email Christine Gettings @

Wednesday February 27, 2013
Safe Space Workshop
The Safe Space Sticker Program seeks to create a safer and more inclusive campus environment for all members of the campus community by reducing heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia. Through the training program and the display of Safe Space stickers the program creates a visible and supportive network of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and ally members of the campus community who have basic knowledge about issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and are able to provide support and referrals to members of the campus community.
Time: 2 p.m.—5 p.m.
RSVP required

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Multi-Cultural Communications
In this event, “Student Perspectives about Multi-Cultural Matters at AU” Professor Joseph Erba will facilitate a discussion, looking at issues here at AU that focus on college women and sexual abuse, immigrants and life in the US, Latina/os and sexual orientation and/or gender identity and low-income communities and access to healthy food.
Location: Butler Boardroom
Time: 2:30 p.m.—5:15 p.m.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
American University Women Who Inspire” Lecture Series: Featuring filmmaker and AU SOC Professor, Brigid Maher… “Filming Women in Islamic Cultures,” discussion and presentation
Location: Battelle Thompkins Atrium
Time: 7:30 p.m.—9:00 p.m.
RSVP required: Email Tara S. Lang @

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Examining Cisgender Privilege
Presentation: Student Derek Siegel
Location: Butler Boardroom
Time: 5:30 p.m.—6:30 p.m.

Students Say

"This conversation is very important because sexual orientation and identity create a diverse envrionment and it is important that we aren't close-minded to people that are different from our choices...This sparked a lot of discussion about gender and sexuality and it was very interesting from someone like me who has never taken a gender class here at American University. "

Lindsay Muri

Thursday, February 28, 2013
16th Annual Hispanic Law Conference: The Evolving Legal Landscape for Hispanic Lawyers at the Washington College of Law
Sponsor: Hispanic National Bar Assoc, HBA DC MD & VA, Latino/a Alumni Assoc WCL, WCL Latino/a Law Stud Association
This annual event serves to bring together inspiring and successful individuals and institutions devoted to the progress of Latinos in the U.S. and the region. As thought- provoking as the 2012 sessions on “What is At Stake in the 2012 Elections”, this year's speakers will cause attendees to consider the choices in the legal landscape. The day’s events will conclude with an awards dinner honoring distinguished J.D. and LL.M. students and alumni, as well as local high school student scholarship recipients.
Location: WCL, Room 603
Time: 12:00 p.m.—9:00 p.m.
RSVP required: Email SECLE @

Friday, March 1st, 2013
The Effects of Political Affiliation at AU: A Dialogue on the Student Experience

Sponsor: The Center for Diversity & Inclusion and the Dialogue Development Group
American University prides itself on being one of the most politically active universities in the nation, but is its campus inclusive to all political parties? Be a participant in a dialogue discussing the left to right political climate on campus and share how your political affiliation has affected your experiences at AU. This dialogue will explore topics such as freedom of speech and ideas, the 2012 election, stereotypes held by students or faculty, the classroom environment, and the overall student experience as it relates to political affiliation on AU's campus.
Location: SIS 355
Time: 3:00—5:00 p.m.
RSVP encouraged: Space is limited. To secure your attendance, it is strongly encouraged for you to RSVP by emailing Tracey Livingston @

Friday, March 1st, 2013
First Friday Film: “BRAVE”

“This film follows the heroic journey of Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land. Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric Witch for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources—including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers—to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late, discovering the meaning of true bravery.”
Location: The Tavern, MGC, First Floor
Time: 10:00 p.m.

Students Say

"Contrary to my original thoughts, "Brave" fit nicely with the rest of the events in Diversity Week because the film dealt with issues of portrayal of women and feeling of acceptance. The movie could appeal to a diverse audience because of its slapstick humor that kids can enjoy, deeper social meaning that appeals to adults, and ideals of female empowerment that women can identify with."

Nicole Tanoue

What Faculty Are Doing

Carolyn Brown 

Brown's students' news package on Diversity Week was put together for a class newscast. Watch video

Maggie Stogner

She's doing an SOC field trip to the Roads of Arabia exhibition during which she'll discuss the films she made and the relevancy of recognizing the value of cultural diversity past and present.

In addition, both of the courses she is teaching this semester (Comm 575 Adv. Writing for Documentary and Comm 496/696 Lens on the Past: Producing the Historical Documentary) interweave themes of diversity throughout the curriculum. Comm 575 explores films and filmmakers from a very diverse range. Comm 496/696 focuses on the theme of immigration, an inherently diverse topic.

Joseph Erba

Two of his classes meet during a "diversity week" event so they'll be attending that event instead of having a regular class session. Also, because he considers diversity matters to be very important for his field, he includes them in his classes throughout the semester via assignments, readings, class discussions, examples..."Thanks to Pallavi and Lenny, we even developed a new class titled 'Strategic Multicultural Communication,' which focuses on better understanding and communicating to diverse publics in the U.S."

Pallavi Kumar

Her PR class will be spending the first part of class trying to come up with an action plan on how to boost diversity within the field of strategic communications.