University excellence starts with diversity

The+Main+Building+at+UTSA%27s+Main+Campus.

Robyn Castro

The Main Building at UTSA’s Main Campus.

Ryan Houston-Dial, Opinion Editor

After the tragic events in the Atlanta area spas and Colorado supermarket mass shooting, I felt compelled to understand how UTSA would support minority students. Routinely when these horrific events take place, the lives of minority individuals are lost. As students, some of us may have a tendency to want to hide our feelings about the effects these events have on our emotional well-being. The Office of Inclusive Excellence located within UTSA’s Main Building serves as an excellent model for presenting the importance of diversity within a community. On Wednesday, March 31, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Myron Anderson and Dr. Traci Buckley about the office’s ongoing support for student excellence. To my surprise, the organizational structure and implementation of strategies were very thorough, catering to student needs. I felt my concerns and honest questions about the office were valued and taken into further consideration. Furthermore, both emphasized the Open Door Policy available such that any students or faculty who wanted to have a discussion were welcome to come in and share their concerns or praises.

Students should familiarize themselves with The Office of Inclusive Excellence by visiting https://www.utsa.edu/inclusiveexcellence/. There lies an abundance of resources from students seeking mentorship to student-led initiatives taking place on campus amidst COVID-19 as well as offering the Presidential Inclusive Excellence Scholarship for students who exemplify a passion for inclusion, diversity and social justice. Fostering a sense of community during COVID-19 has been a challenge, to say the least; however, The Office of Inclusive Excellence continues to reinvent itself for the betterment of the UTSA community.

When visiting the website, those who want to contribute their ideas, placed in the center of the homepage, will see an orange ‘Idea Catcher’ box. Upon clicking the box, users will be guided through to a form that asks for their contact information along with a space to place their ideas. Dr. Anderson was adamant about the UTSA community using the feature, stating, “We want your ideas, we want to be connected to you,” said Anderson. Additionally, for more UTSA community engagement, Dr. Buckley mentioned the office’s ability to host workshops about topics such as microaggressions, anti-racist rhetoric and implicit bias.

Students and faculty who are looking to have an active role in participation with the Office of Inclusive Excellence have several opportunities to do so. Most notably, there are advisory committees individuals can join, such as Cultural Intelligence, Diversity Awards and Accessibility.
The Office of Inclusive Excellence has also received proper recognition for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Chancellor of the UT system James Milken was impressed with the program’s ability to produce month-long events for Black and Latino History months. It was a pleasure to learn more about the resources we have available as students, including how we can contribute to the success of UTSA. Students wanting to take an active role in leadership should share conversations with the office. Not only does the office serve students but those within the UTSA community who are committed to diversity and excellence.