Check DIS out: CME has new name



The Center for Multicultural Education is now the Office of Diversity, Inclusion, & Social Justice and is home to Multicultural Education Services, Gender and Sexuality Services, and Military and Veteran Student Services.


The  Center  for Multicultural Education (CME) has not only changed its name, but the entire dynamic of how it approaches student inclusion. The newly renamed Office of Diversity, Inclusion, & Social Justice (DIS) is now the umbrella organization housing Multicultural Education Services, Gender and Sexuality Services and Military and Veteran Student Services.

DIS welcomes every UNI student and urges them to utilize their services.

“Our purpose is to support diversity efforts, try to be inclusive of all students across campus, making UNI more inclusive for everyone and promote social justice,” explained Emily Harsch, LGBT student services coordinator. “Think of it like a pyramid. We need diversity to be working on inclusion, and we need inclusion to be working on social justice […] we are trying to be inclusive of everyone and provide a more just world.”

The name change idea came from the DIS Director Jamie Butler Chidozie. All the people working within each department contributed to the naming decision. According to Keyah Levy, assistant director at DIS, each department determined key components defining what their office encompasses to find a name that would impact all students.

“Diversity and inclusion is our number one goal, so we definitely wanted to align our offices to meet the needs of that particular goal,” Levy said.

DIS is also developing a modified mission statement and logo to better match their new name, Levy said.

The current mission statement says: “The UNI Center for Multicultural Education will advance inclusion and social justice through advocacy and support of underrepresented and marginalized students, provide diversity education for all its community members, and promote a safe and welcoming environment that fosters academic success, a sense of belonging, and respect for all people and cultures.”

Levy and Harsch both spoke with passion and excitement as they shared the reasons behind the name change. The CME wanted to not only be more inclusive to students on campus, but also to provide a more welcoming and safe environment for students to relax and spend their time without having to identify themselves within a specific category.

“It was an effort to be more inclusive as a unit and more collaborative in the way that we work, and we wanted really to find a mission that would define all three of our offices and came up with the idea to come under that one umbrella,” Levy explained.

Harsch added that it wasn’t only the CME that had a new name; two of the three offices now housed under DIS underwent name changes as well.

“We renamed our offices to be more inclusive, a bit more expansive because not all of our students identified with the term ‘LGBT’ and it can be a little intimidating if someone is exploring their identity to come into a space that’s labeled that way,” Harsch said.

“We want to focus on student development and leadership and social justice so we wanted to keep that in mind when we were renaming the department as a whole,” Levy said.

DIS has a new look as well as a new name. From their new furniture and redecorated cozy feel to their Wii gaming system, craft room and kitchen area, students are able use the 24-hour space—with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays—to study, relax and be themselves without the pressures of the outside world.

DIS is developing the “Social Justice Institute,” a co-curricular educational opportunity for students in the spring semester to become better advocates for diversity, inclusion and social justice, Levy and Harsch explained.

The office is also looking forward to “No Class Cancelled,” a program allowing someone from DIS to step in when a professor is unable to teach, so students can learn more about diversity, inclusion and social justice.

In addition, Multicultural Education Services has a mentoring program called “M2S2” in which multicultural mentors help guide first-year and transfer students through their first year at UNI. Harsch explained that this aligned with the newer mentoring program through Gender and Sexuality Services called “Queer Peer.”

“We are trying to get all of our students to connect to one another so there is a larger community,” Harsch said.

Military and Veterans Student Services has begun work on a mentoring program within their office as well.

Students can keep an eye out for DIS through their hashtag #CheckDISOut, their ads on campus, their website, and their new logo.