With the hostile political climate these past few months, the need for dialogue and action intensifies.
The Office of Inclusive Excellence presented their third annual All People’s Luncheon to the campus community on Oct. 26 to give awareness to more than 300 staff, faculty, community members and students on the importance of solidarity, diversity and inclusive excellence.
Dr. Joe-Joe McManus, Chief Diversity Officer, commenced the ceremony by introducing CSUSM President Karen Haynes.
“We’ve been witnessed to numerous acts … over the semester of hatred, intolerance and violence that show us that now more than ever, we must continue to do our part to make sure that CSUSM is not just a place that talks about being a diverse community but … show that commitment through action,” said Haynes.
Haynes presented the President’s Student Champion Award for Inclusive Excellence and Diversity to Juan Martin Leyva. This award honors a CSUSM student who has made achievements in promoting the university’s goals in diversity, inclusive excellence and social justice.
In order to be a nominee, students, faculty and staff recommend students who have done compelling work on campus. Then nominees are seen by a committee in the Office of Inclusive Excellence and president Haynes makes a final decision.
As a former inmate, Leyva founded a program called Transitions, to help formerly incarcerated students in community colleges by providing them helpful resources and mentorships. Leyva also brought the program to the CSUSM campus to promote success for students affected by the prison system.
After Haynes’ presentation of Leyva, there was a spoken word by poet Yazmin Monet Watkins followed by keynote speaker Dr. Michael Benitez, they spoke on the importance of solidarity giving attendees their perspectives on it.
The event ended with the unveiling of the new Beyond the Stereotype Campaign: Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. Like the first Beyond the Stereotype, this campaign focuses on giving awareness to students to look beyond the stereotype of a group of people.
Ariel Stevenson, Diversity Coordinator for the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Abrahan Monzon, Assistant Director of ASI Community Centers, presented seven posters which had students, faculty and staff draped or holding the LGBTQA+ rainbow flag. These posters, with an addition of three more, will be hanged in the second floor of the USU in early December of this year.
The next All People’s Luncheon will be held next year on October.