Future Directions for SPSSI’s Graduate Student Members
Addressing diversity continues to be an issue across industries and contexts. Depending on where you look, you may come across very different definitions of what diversity is and what it looks like. With these varying definitions come varying approaches to creating more inclusive and diverse environments. Efforts to create conditions that accomodate people from many backgrounds are increasingly being conceptualized and implemented, with Diversity Committees becoming a standard for many organizations and institutions. Though most often these efforts are well-intentioned, they may at times create more harm for people who identify with marginalized or oppressed groups.
As a person who holds multiple minority identities, I occupy spaces every day in which, though well-intentioned, are othering and passively accepting to microaggressions. Seeing myself and others from marginalized groups represented in an organization is not always enough, as diversity and inclusion are not synonymous and tokenization is not productive. It is also vital to create space for people from all backgrounds to be unapologetically themselves, embraced as such, and for systems to provide opportunity for all to not just survive, but to thrive. In an effort to create these new spaces, and following the trends of many committees, the SPSSI Graduate Student Committee developed a new Member-at-Large position with a specific focus on Diversity. I am honored to be the first elected member for this position and am excited to develop this role to further embody SPSSI’s efforts in ways that are both meaningful and resourceful.
SPSSI aims to attract, retain, and give opportunity to its diverse graduate student members. In the past and currently, this has looked like providing Diversity Student Travel Awards to SPSSI’s annual conference, offering the Dalmas A. Taylor Summer Minority Policy Fellowship, and by highlighting the work of diverse graduate members in The Rookie’s Diversity Spotlight. However, like most others, SPSSI has a lot of work to do to better serve its diverse graduate student members.
Over the next year, the Graduate Student Committee would like to provide more resources for and uplift the work and voices of its diverse graduate student members. We will be developing ways for diverse members to better connect with each other through peer mentorship and at the SPSSI annual conference. Additionally, we are looking for diverse graduate student members to submit writing on topics of academia, research, activism, identity, and beyond to The Rookie. We hope to develop an online diversity e-handbook from these submissions as a living and growing resource.
SPSSI’s graduate student members hold a multiplicity of identities and come from unique experiences - all which add to the beautiful complexity of perspectives represented in the organization and the work accomplished by its members. I am excited to see the ways in which further embracing these elevates the organization, and to support the creation of space and opportunities to better serve SPSSI’s graduate student members who are too often denied both.