What Diversity Officers Want You to Know About Your On-Campus Resource

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Looking for a Diversity Month speaker for your Chapter? Need resources for a workshop? As Chapters begin prepping to celebrate the countless number of things that make our members unique, some may be finding themselves at a loss for where to start.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, a blanket term for the variety of university divisions that specialize in diversity, may be the best resource for Diversity Month help and ideas. From coast to coast, office administrations want your PRSSA Chapter to know they are there for you and are excited to help you celebrate!

What is a “Diversity Office”?

These are on-campus divisions that serve students of all backgrounds and identities. They exist to promote diverse people, ideas and programs. These offices are higher education institutions’ opportunity to highlight the wide variety of voices and stories on campus. They encourage the sharing of individual ideas and values for the enhancement of diverse education and the creation of an inclusive community where students can feel free to express and grow to their most authentic self.

These offices often handle the coordination of the institution’s diversity initiatives. These may include a full diversity week/month, events throughout the year, seminars and advising for student organizations.

What does “Diversity” mean to a Diversity Office?

Although response wording ranges from coast to coast on this question, these offices come together to promote the celebration and acceptance of all backgrounds and beings. Diversity is the highlight of what makes an individual an individual.

Why should students visit their campus Diversity Office?

It is a STUDENT space. These offices strive to create an environment open to and driven by the student body. They are established to facilitate conversation and serve as a safe place for students to express themselves and learn about their peers. Many offices offer student study and lounge spaces that serve as campus “safe zones” for expression and a chance to meet other open-minded individuals.

Students also can meet with professionals in the office to learn more about how to create an inclusive campus community, receive a calendar of diversity-promoting and open conversation events and find resources for those struggling to feel accepted.

How is public relations involved in everyday work in these offices?

Public relations helps these offices to tell a story and create a narrative on campus. Many members of these offices have backgrounds in communications and marketing, and they now use their skills to advocate and spread awareness for a cause they are passionate about. Offices utilize the public relations areas of event planning, social media management, graphic design and digital communications to reach students and promote acceptance and awareness on campus.

What can PRSSA students do to help promote diversity on campus?

Talk to your campus Diversity Office! Offices often have interns or are interested in having communications/public relations student involvement in event planning and social media management. They want to build relationships with the students and are interested in the insight and partnerships that PRSSA can offer to them. Additionally, make sure your members are part of the campus diversity narrative. Be kind to others, attend events and talk about them with others, ask questions and be fair and honest to keep the conversation positive.

Ideas for partnering with your Diversity Office:

  • Offer to plan a campus diversity week.
  • Utilize a diversity officer as a speaker for a PRSSA meeting.
  • Offer to do media relations/promotions for an established series of diversity events.
  • Partner with your Diversity Office’s student organizations and host an open conversation event between PRSSA and organization members.
  • Volunteer at Diversity Office events and promote the utilization of the office on campus.

Emily Zekonis is a junior at West Virginia University. She is serving as a PRSSA Regional Ambassador this year.

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