Doane unveils Division of diversity, equity, and inclusion

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DEI pic

Vice President of the Division of diversity, equity, and inclusion participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Doane University-Lincoln campus.

The Division of diversity, equity, and inclusion is a new division that focuses on making Doane a safe space for all students to truly and freely express themselves.

This new division was unveiled at the Crete campus on Oct. 10.

Vice President of DEI Luis Sotelo says the new division is inspiring work that “calls us to break down systemic and historical barriers and open doors for all to fully participate and belong in reaching our true potential”.

The DEI division hopes to change Doane’s image of being a historically predominantly white campus that lacks diversity, to a more diverse and inclusive one for all students.

In terms of diversity, DEI expands the idea beyond race and wants to include students who identify as LGBTQ as well.

The new division seeks to make current students aware of their vision to make Doane a more inclusive environment for all students and to recruit students to make Doane more diverse.

On Oct. 9, DEI was introduced at the Doane Lincoln campus where members of the division and students spoke to a crowd of about 40 people.

Sotelo talks about the history of DEI and what led to the creation of the division.

“Throughout our history, Doane has had champions of diversity, equity, and inclusion and the ceremonies gave us an opportunity to honor our history, knowing that this moment is possible because of the hardworking and visionary people that have pushed for progress over the years”.

Junior Allison Jasso spoke at the Lincoln campus and said the environment was comfortable and felt everyone in attendance was committed to making the DEI division successful.

Jasso believes in DEI’s mission and vision for the future of Doane.

“To me, DEI means seeking to be more open-minded, understanding, compassionate, welcoming, and comfortable discussing extremely difficult subjects,” Jasso said. “DEI wants to make all students feel comfortable at Doane, and make students feel that they deserve to be here and that there are people looking out for them”.

In an interview with Jake Elswick, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Experience, he talked about momentum. There was never a perfect moment to start this new division but there were factors working against.

“This is where we have to capture this and we have to embrace it and say, look, this isn't just a PR stunt. This isn't just a photograph. This is actually about changing the way that we do things”, Elswick said.

Elswick also discussed how they plan to get more students of color on campus. Doane is increasing its outreach to rural communities and reaching out to Latino students who are first-generation college students.

Doane also hosts Spanish visit days.

“We have families that come in on the weekends so that people don’t have to take off work and we make it easy and accessible in that way,” Elswick said. “When they're here, it's student-run and our Latino students association is taking the reins on that. They're there talking about their experiences and so these parents and students are having very real conversations with our current students to say, you know, these are the barriers that society would tell you exist to get it into a private institution”.

Elswick also talked about Doane’s new partnership with College Possible, which helps first-generation students apply for FAFSA and the general process of getting into college.

The vision that DEI has for the campus is described best by Elswick.

“We do want to see a campus that better reflects what our communities actually look like. Of course, like, we'd love to see more black students, more Latino students, more students that identify as LGBTQ”, Elswick said. “But ultimately, my vision and hope is that when those students come to our campus, they feel like they have a home here. They feel like they can express their identity freely, but they're not going to be discriminated against. That they're not going to face retribution for being openly, freely and proudly who they are”.