Reflecting on Students of Color Speak Out event


PSU students organize the Students of Color Speak Out event in Smith Memorial Student Union

Author: Christian Aniciete, Dr. Maria Tenorio and Patrick Villaflores


Portland State University students recently organized a “Students of Color Speak Out” event where many students shared personal experiences of racial injustices and challenges with inclusive spaces, curriculum content and campus climate. Several members of the PSU Diversity Action Council (DAC) attended the day-­long event to show solidarity as well as capture testimonials and information that would help support the Council’s diversity work. We admire the students for their courage, honesty and advocacy for progressive change.

In light of this student-­led event and college campuses across the country engaged in critical conversations about race, equity, social justice and inclusion, the DAC would like to share some of our ongoing priorities and projects:

Cultural competency

After a well-­attended 2014-­15 cultural competency training series, the DAC is gearing up for another year of inclusive excellence training permitting PSU faculty, staff and students to explore various diversity issues including but not limited to race, sexuality, gender, disability and socioeconomic class. The series strives to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, celebrate differences and intersect commonalities in people, cultures and community.

Recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff of color

Though PSU has the most diverse campus of any public university in Oregon, the University recognizes that there is still much work to be done in attracting and accepting student, faculty and staff applications from historically underrepresented or marginalized communities to a level that reflects the demographics of those communities. Two committees comprised of DAC members are now working with stakeholders to research and identify recommendations to support this two-­fold goal.

As President Wiewel noted in his most recent letter, indeed “continued progress will require much more dialogue and hard work.” The Diversity Action Council is eager to work on our current initiatives alongside PSU leadership, students, faculty, staff, and the campus community to ensure our campus is a safe, equitable and inclusive community.