Adelphi's various diversity task force chairs—all multitasking between new initiatives and their ongoing positions—enthusiastically looked back at their task forces' major accomplishments in 2018 and ahead at this year's top priorities.
Adelphi’s various diversity task force chairs—all multitasking between new initiatives and their ongoing positions—enthusiastically looked back at their task forces’ major accomplishments in 2018 and ahead at this year’s top priorities.
DACA, International and Immigration Task Force
This 16-person task force aims to ensure that Adelphi continues to monitor issues related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), immigration status, visa and international student climate and to serve as a coordinating body for resources and information, among other things.
Perry Greene, Ph.D., developed and initially co-chaired this group in 2016 with Esther Goodcuff ’74, M.A. ’77, who has since retired. Sidney Boquiren, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Music, said, “Perry invited me to join him as co-chair starting in Fall 2017; CarolAnn Daniel [,Ph.D.,] came in as co-chair in Fall 2018 as Perry stepped down.”
Called “DII” in shorthand, the task force was very active in 2018, due to student concerns over President Trump’s moves against immigration and DACA students.
Both co-chairs agreed that Adelphi’s International and Immigration Film Festival last November was a major 2018 task force highlight. The five-day, 10-film event, which drew 250 faculty members, students, staff and community residents, was spearheaded by Dr. Daniel and may well become an annual event, Dr. Boquiren said.
“We wanted to show the immigrant experience in all its complexity and the multiplicity of who we are as a community,” Dr. Daniel said. “Film is also an important tool to humanize immigrants, educate the community about the issues and challenges of the immigrant experience and to create empathy and understanding. We hope to revisit a couple of the films this spring in a more focused and targeted way,” Dr. Boquiren added. Dr. Daniel said they are considering follow-up panels to delve deeper into some of the issues raised and perhaps encourage collaboration between University students and area high schools’ immigrant students.
Another major accomplishment, Dr. Boquiren said, was development of “an immigration LibGuide by task force member [and Swirbul Library professor] Sally Stiegletz, J.D., that provides information and links to useful resources on current immigration issues. “The LibGuide also has a tab for Common Threads, which one might say is a precursor to the Adelphi Story Project,” he said. Common Threads is an immigration stories blog from the Adelphi University Libraries.
The co-chairs cited the Adelphi Story Project, funded in part by the Women’s Giving Circle, as a significant 2019 initiative. This involves “stories we have collected—audio only—from our community that are being edited in the spirit of NPR’s StoryCorps project,” Dr. Daniel said. “The stories highlight one of the goals of the task force,” she said, namely “to create a more inclusive community.”
Task force member John Drew, assistant professor of communications, is developing the project, which will feature Adelphi community members sharing their stories of immigration, Dr. Boquiren noted.
Task Force Co-Chairs: Sidney Boquiren, Ph.D., and CarolAnn Daniel, Ph.D.
Dr. Boquiren, now in his 15th year with Adelphi, agreed to serve as co-chair “because I felt this was an opportunity for me to contribute to efforts supporting our DACA students as well as international and immigrant members of our community.”
Dr. Daniel has served as faculty director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion since January 2017 and is a professor with the School of Social Work. She also heads the Faculty of Color Network, which aims to engage faculty of color, especially new ones, with the University’s overall academic life while promoting scholarship and tenure. Members of the network collaborate on research, provide peer mentoring and hold intensive research writing workshops.
Dr. Daniel said her greatest task force satisfaction comes from “the opportunity to create change, in particular, the opportunity to create greater awareness and deeper conversations about immigrants and their situations that go beyond the sound bites and historical discussion we hear in the greater society. I think this is the only way to foster the compassion and care that all people, including immigrants, deserve.”
LGBTQ+ Task Force
This 10-person group works closely with the University Diversity Committee to further support the inclusion and acceptance of students, faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ+. Adam Visconti, task force chair, said its biggest accomplishment came in May 2018, when Adelphi became a “premier campus” on the Campus Pride Index. Adelphi has boosted its index score from 59 percent (3 out of 5 stars) in 2016 to 78 percent (4 out of 5 stars) last year, he noted.
In addition, in October 2018, “as part of National Coming Out Day, we unveiled a new Diversity and Inclusion tile in the AU2GO app,” he said. That, he added, “allows students to connect with [Director of Student Mentoring] Chotsani West [M.A. ’07] to match with a mentor on campus, apply for gender-inclusive housing, see the SafeZone program calendar and find the nearest all-gender accessible restroom, along with other resources.”
For 2019, the task force plans to expand support services for the LGBTQ+ community—“to earn the fifth star,” Visconti said. “Our faculty members are working on an LGBTQ+ studies minor and an outward-facing LGBTQ+ certificate,” he added. “We’re also networking with LGBTQ+ alumni and LGBTQ+ leaders in New York City to provide new opportunities and resources for our students and alumni.” To be recognized as a five-star campus, he said, “we also need a resource office with a full-time staff member who supports LGBTQ+ students and initiatives.”
The group is also striving for an LGBTQ+ social fraternity/sorority, affinity space and student scholarships, as well as campus housing renovations allowing accessible gender-inclusive restrooms and showers.
Task Force Chair: Adam Visconti
Impressed with his work on the University Diversity Committee and the LGBTQ and Allies Committee, Dr. Greene appointed Visconti as task force chair in Fall 2016. He is also associate director of residential life and housing, which he first joined in Fall 2013 as a residence hall director.
Formation of the LGBTQ+ Task Force “created an opportunity to do the great work we were already doing informally, now with the clear symbol of support that University recognition provides,” Visconti said.
Universal Access Task Force
After leading a Spring 2017 Diversity Campus Tour, Dr. Greene developed this task force to identify and assess the access issues so they could then prioritize and act. Last year, the group implemented many changes aimed at creating a more accessible campus. Brian Flatley, M.S. ’19, task force co-chair, said its major 2018 accomplishments included advocating for larger bathroom stalls for people who use a wheelchair, updating the AU2GO mobile app to include the locations of accessible building entrances as well as the locations of accessible bathrooms, and also updating accessibility signage around campus. Last summer, nearly 100 older accessibility logos were replaced with the new “wheelchair in motion” logos.
The task force’s top priorities for this year, he said, are “building a state-of-the-art exam room for students who are given testing accommodations and ensuring that the University Center renovation considers those with disabilities in every aspect of design.”
He said, “The greatest satisfaction comes when we have students and Adelphi staff volunteering their time to break down barriers and make Adelphi more accessible.”
Task Force Co-Chair: Brian Flatley, M.S. ’19
Flatley, associate director of the Student Access Office, joined Adelphi four years ago. Previously, he was a producer for the ABC News documentary unit, where he produced critically acclaimed, award-winning medical documentary series.
Dr. Greene came up with the idea to create the task force and “I offered to co-chair with him,” Flatley said.
Student Veterans Task Force
The Student Veterans Task Force was formed in Spring 2018, with Christina Wease ’08 appointed chair while continuing as coordinator of student veteran services at Adelphi’s College of Professional and Continuing Studies.
Last year, Wease said, her task force’s key accomplishments were being able to “designate a counselor in admissions to be our point of contact for our veteran students and working to make sure the students weren’t penalized due to VA payment delays this past semester.”
For 2019, she said, “We would like to work on expanding our Veterans Resource Center, located in Hagedorn Hall, Room 203.”
Task Force Chair: Christina Wease ’08
Wease, who got a B.A. in Psychology from Adelphi in 2008 and a master’s in school counseling from Queens College in 2011, has been working with Adelphi’s veteran students “as their first point of contact” since she began as an academic adviser for the College in 2012.
“The unique veteran student brings another layer of diversity here on campus,” she said. “Knowing I am able to advocate for these deserving individuals who serve our country is very rewarding.”
Task forces can sometimes develop into something greater. What began as Dr. Greene’s University Diversity Task Force eventually became the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and a campus community better prepared to meet the needs of all our students.