My name is Donna Vivar and along with the Class of 2012, I am new to Stonehill College. I serve as the Assistant Director for Intercultural Affairs housed in the College Center (aka Merkert Gym). Before this, I was working at Boston College in a position that allowed me to observe and take part of diversity issues and initiatives throughout campus. Although I am familiar with issues of diversity in higher education, I always find it interesting to see how these issues are played out on different campuses. After only a few weeks on the job, I cannot say I have quite figured out the Stonehill culture (in fact I recently had to have someone explain to me the different sides of “the Café” and what the “SpoCo” is), but throughout the semester, I thought I would share with you my first experiences and impressions. So let’s start with observation #1:
The ABS Leaders are awesome! Because this program, in this form, is new, allow me to actually be the one to explain an acronym. ABS stands for the ALANA Brothers and Sisters. You may have seen them around campus with ABS door tags and cool shirts that read, “This is What Diversity Looks Like” (which they worked hard to earn). They are sophomores, juniors, and seniors of all shapes, colors [yes, white is a color], and sizes that applied to be a part of the ABS Leadership Program. Through an involved application and interview process, they were hired in the spring. Beginning in the spring semester and continuing in the fall, these students have been involved in intense conversations about identity development, power, and privilege. These conversations have made the ABS Leaders more socially aware and have shaped them as leaders. The skills they learned will not only help them lead the Stonehill community, but also help them in any professional situations beyond college. Picture them like the Captain Planet heroes with many tools in their “toolkits.” Their rings help them combat ignorance, apathy, and injustice.
After spending only a couple of days with them, I saw that they were more than ready to welcome the incoming students that signed up for the Intercultural Experience Program. This program was offered to ALL incoming students that wanted to meet fellow students that shared similar interests in diversity issues. All the participants of the program are just as cool as the ABS leaders. After only a 24-hour period for this pre-orientation, special bonds and long lasting friendships were created.
All this in my first week! I can honestly say, because of my interactions with the students participating in the ABS Leadership Program and the Intercultural Experience program, as well as Liza (my boss; editor's note: I'm her CO-WORKER.. not her boss....), and my new co-workers in Student Affairs, I had a wonderful introduction into Stonehill!