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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA continues work on diversity

    Raji Rhys-Wietecha
    Raji Rhys-Wietecha

    Raji Rhys-Wietecha has made it her commitment to promote diversity and diverse issues on the UA campus, and she will have more opportunity to accomplish that goal as the new director of the UA Diversity Resource Office.

    The DRO’s mission is to advance diversity into every aspect of the university, Rhys-Wietecha said.

    “”The important thing and the great thing about the DRO is that we don’t do it alone,”” Rhys-Wietecha said. “”We need the help and support of other champions of diversity on this campus and there are many of them.””

    Student involvement in diversity is one of the most important aspects of the process, Rhys-Wietecha said.

    “”A diverse student body and diversity in our curriculum is also beneficial to students,”” Rhys-Wietecha said.

    Two issues Rhys-Wietecha said affect students the most are improving the campus climate for diversity and improving the retention and recruitment of a diverse student body.

    “”We’re educating students to be part of a global, diverse world. We’re a global economy, a global marketplace. The diversity of our nation is growing. It’s our job to educate folks to be effective and successful and to be leaders in that type of environment,”” Rhys-Wietecha said.

    Students are the biggest part of improving the campus climate and making an environment that is welcoming to everyone, Rhys-Wietecha said.

    “”We want to encourage people to know that they have a place here, that we want them here that we are better because we have them here,”” Rhys-Wietecha said.

    Students seem to perceive the UA as a diverse environment, which is exactly what Rhys-Wietecha is working towards.

    Mike Nguyen, a biology sophomore and historian for the Filipino-American Student Association, said the UA is a pretty diverse place, and the administration is doing a good job to keep it that way.

    “”It’s way more diverse than my high school was,”” Nguyen said.

    Michael Shih, a chemical engineering senior, agreed the UA is a good environment for diversity, but he can’t say whether the administration is responsible for it or not.

    “”I don’t really see anything about what they do,”” Shih said. “”I can’t really say if they’re doing a good job or not.””

    The bright, energetic Rhys-Wietecha started her career in diversity while getting her doctorate at the University of Maryland, doing research on multicultural issues and working with multicultural populations, Rhys-Wietecha said.

    “”My entire career reflects commitment to diversity in all its forms,”” Rhys-Wietecha said, “”It is my honor to be in the director position.””

    Edith Auslander, who oversees the DRO as vice president and senior associate to the president, said Rhys-Wietecha was the right person for the job and had proven herself as program coordinator.

    “”It’s important that I have someone to have oversight over that office, since it’s in another building,”” Auslander said. “”(Rhys-Wietecha) has had a wonderful year.””

    Rhys-Wietecha said she worked at San JosǸ State University as the international studies marketing projects manager and as director of the multicultural center before coming to the UA.

    Working at San JosǸ gave her experience in research, building projects from the ground up.

    “”It was an opportunity to build something, to build a place where all people can feel accepted, safe and valued,”” Rhys-Wietecha said.

    That is something she also hopes to accomplish at the UA, Rhys-Wietecha said.

    One of the ways the DRO involves students in diversity is through a program like UA Discusses, Rhys-Wietecha said.

    Each year the DRO works with other departments on campus to develop an annual theme – last year it was “”cultural competency,”” Rhys-Wietecha said.

    “”Students live in a diverse world,”” Rhys-Wietecha said. “”A lot of students know that diversity is important and value that.””

    UA Discusses present issues that are important to diversity in the society and features keynote speakers from many different fields, Rhys-Wietecha said.

    The next event, “”Who Owns The Wealth?”” will be held Feb. 21 in the Ventana Room of the Student Union Memorial Center and is about socio-economic status issues, according to the DRO Web site.

    Another program involving both students and faculty in the process of diversity is Faculty Fellows, organized by the Dean of Students Office, Rhys-Wietecha said.

    Faculty Fellows is a program designed to bring students and faculty together outside the classroom to promote student success, according to the Dean of Students Office Web site.

    “”Change is most effective when you infuse diversity into existing systems,”” Rhys-Wietecha said. “”Faculty Fellows is an example of that. They already had diversity within the program. We just tried to highlight it and bring our resources in, bringing in speakers and timely topics.””

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