San Jose State University
Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
March 2021 Newsletter
Welcome to Our Newsletter sign
screen shot of zoom interview
Conversaciones con Fernanda

We are delighted to open our newsletter with a new video segment called "Good Trouble - Stories of Activism and Necessary Trouble from Bay Area leaders''. This space will spotlight and celebrate Bay Area leaders, who are advocates for our most vulnerable communities and whose work is guided by anti-racist, equity and inclusion principles and centered in social and environmental justice. Our CDO Kathy Wong(Lau) will conduct short video interviews that will highlight the work of those leaders. Our inspiration for this space comes from the late Congressman John Lewis who said “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”


In celebration of Women’s History Month, we would like to spotlight as our inaugural speaker: SJSU Alumna Cindy Chavez, who is currently a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Supervisor Chavez is also the past President of the Board of Supervisors, past Vice-Mayor of the City of San Jose, and past President of the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). 

Deputy Diversity Officer Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas introduces Supervisor Cindy Chavez as ODEI’s inaugural spotlight leader for "Good Trouble - Stories of Activism and Necessary Trouble from Bay Area leaders''.

I first met Supervisor Cindy Chavez in 2006 when I volunteered for a phone bank during her campaign for Mayor of San Jose but didn’t get to know her until a few years later. Through my work as a board member for the Latina Coalition Silicon Valley, a non-profit organization that supports Latina development and empowerment through programs, events, and community activities, I had the opportunity to get to know Supervisor Chavez and her advocacy and equity work for women in the Bay Area. In 2014, when I was co-leading the ELLA (Engaged Latina Leadership Activist) Program, I reached out to Supervisor Chavez and asked her to be our graduation speaker. Supervisor Chavez accepted without hesitation - something that she did quite often when her help or support was needed. I remember that as ELLA’s graduation speaker, she addressed this brilliant group of young Latinas with words of inspiration and encouragement as well as with practical and specific calls for action. She spoke about the importance of learning about the needs of their communities, volunteering, and fighting for a cause. She also expressed the value of joining a board or a commission, building a strong network, and never being afraid to run for office since women's voices are very much needed in all the spaces where decisions are being made. Supervisor Chavez was knowledgeable, authentic, and inspirational.

I also remember Supervisor Chavez during a Civic Leadership Program session at the Asian Pacific Leadership Institute (APALI) where I was a participant in 2013. APALI’s CLP is a program that seeks to develop civic and political leaders through self-knowledge, social justice training, community building, and networking. Supervisor Chavez remarks during that session were about the importance of civic and political engagement and the ways in which to participate fully in a democracy; however what I remember the most about her talk were her stories. She shared about her upbringing and how she learned the concept of servant leadership from her parents, in particular her mother who was a teacher, and who instilled in her that if the community was doing well and thriving, her own family would be well and thriving too. She learned early on that by serving others and focusing on the growth and well-being of the community everyone will benefit and do better. Supervisor Chavez has demonstrated through her work what a servant leader looks like: someone who puts the needs of others first, has no problem in bringing more people to the table, and wants those around her to perform as high as possible. For all these reasons, Supervisor Cindy Chavez, someone I consider a friend, is our first “Good Trouble Spotlight Bay Area Leader”, and an impressive woman to acknowledge and celebrate during this year Women’s History Month.

In our own words rainbow banner
Catching Up with Kathy

As we approach the one year mark of sheltering in place and our campus pivoting to remote teaching and remote services of every type, I am deeply moved by my colleagues from all parts of our university community. First, I am deeply pained for great disruption to the lives of students, not only in having to move to remote learning, but also being in the place of few choices as either jobs were lost, hours cut, or decisions made to risk one’s own health and the health of one’s families in order to work, sometimes to merely survive. Faculty suffered similar disruptions designing and managing the world of Zoom, Canvas, and remote office hours, as well as teaching students whom they knew were enduring so many challenges during a pandemic. Everyone balanced living and working in tight spaces of endless home-schooling, meetings, studying, and Zooming. We entered a bewildering world of finding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks and now finding vaccinations. 

If there is one thing that I have learned as someone who is in upper Administration is the incredible daily, 24/7 productive work of so many of our staff and administrators, many of whom have been grinding long days non-stop since March of 2020, with no summer off.  Staff have been tirelessly (or maybe tiredly) delivering support and high impact practices to students remotely, with a laser focus on enrollment, advising, counseling, financial aid, summer orientation, housing, maintenance, IT support, classroom support, financial transactions, grant management, personnel management, public safety, and of course, medical health. There is the endless work of the calculus of COVID-10 planning and mitigation guidance that changes monthly and weekly. We have had to attend to doing all of this equitably and with a particular focus to unearth and address systemic racism in the everyday mundane practices and protocols of our university. 

This day-to-day work that often goes unnoticed in the pre-COVID-19 face-to-face world may be even more invisible now to those who teach and learn remotely. And so my hope is that we remember that it took all of our employees and many of our student leaders to carry us through one of the most difficult, tragic, heartbreaking years on our globe. Many of us, including me, lost family and friends to COVID-19. Through all of this I saw magic happen through the work and commitment of so many Spartans many of whom gave each other grace and support when the situation called for it. And some just as importantly called us out, and demanded more of us in terms of equity and respect. We shared in the joy of new skills learned, cursed in the frustration of wifi failures and Zoom calls dropped. We tried to pivot and come up with new ways of doing things, giving up our expert status. The most difficult thing is the loss of our daily connections from the serendipitous encounters to the new friendships never made. I am hopeful for the time when we are able to return even with masks and social distancing. Until then, I am conscious to be grateful for our Spartan community.

Stop AAPI Hate Rally Flyer
Take Up Space with Dr. B!

In March we celebrate Women’s History Month. The month serves as an opportunity for us to commemorate, honor and encourage the study of the contributions of women to the history of the United States of America. I also like to use this month as an opportunity to honor Black women beyond Black History Month.

This year has brought our nation its first Woman, Black, South Asian, and HBCU graduate Vice-President. Watching Vice President Harris get sworn in reminded me of another first, Maya Angelou who was the first woman and the first Black American to read a poem at a presidential inauguration when she read "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Vice President Harris stands on the shoulders of other women who serve as firsts, such as Shirley Chisholm who became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress in 1968, serving as a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. In 1972 Chisholm also was the first African-American candidate for a major party's nomination for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratric Party's presidential nomination. Carol Moseley BrauRepresentative Carrie Meet in the Florida House chamber in 1980.n was the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, the first African-American U.S. Senator from the Democratic Party, the first woman to defeat an incumbent U.S. Senator in an election, and the first female U.S. Senator from Illinois.

Carrie Meek, from my home state of Florida, who after pushing for the desegregation of Miami Dade College (largest college in the Florida state college system), in 1982 became the first African-American woman ever elected to the Florida Senate and in 1992 the first Black person to serve in Congress from the state of Florida since Reconstruction.

As we reflect on and celebrate the contributions that women have made and continue to make to the growth and the success of the United States, we must remember that Black women have always played an integral role in American history. This has included actively pushing for the passage of the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments despite the limitations on their own personal freedoms at the time, to being leaders on the ground in the current fight against voter suppression. So, this Women’s History Month we will honor all of the women who have contributed to making a more equal and just society.

Photo above: Representative Carrie Meek in the Florida House chamber in 1980

ODEI in action infographic

Thought Bubble

I was thinking about when I became aware of Women’s History Month and I really don’t know when I first heard of it. I certainly don’t remember celebrating in elementary or middle school. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t high school or even during my undergraduate studies.  I could really only point to the last decade of even being aware of the existence of such a commemoration and celebration, so I thought it might help to look up when it actually started. During my research I came across some very interesting articles that put the date back to the early 1900s when garment workers were protesting for workers rights and the creation of a Women’s Day. That grew into a week and then, eventually, in 1987 Congress passed a declaring March as Women’s History Month.  Time magazine and The Oprah Magazine have some good, easily digestible information that you should check out. 

Of course after realizing Women’s History Month only came into being when I was in middle school I could kind of see why I didn’t know about it as a kid. I would say I’m kind of shocked at my high school teachers though, especially my English teachers, for missing out on those opportunities for more essay topics. Ok, only one of them was a woman in my four years of high school and then my college freshman writing professor was a man, so I kind of get it. And yes, my US History teacher was a man too. *Shrugs* I guess it makes sense now why I didn’t know about it. 

So now that I do know, and I’ve equipped myself with this information, what am I going to do with it? Rather than talk about the amazing contributions women have made to this country - and we are amazing - I feel led to talk about other things, like what we still need to do. We still need to make sure women know how amazing we are, and educate ourselves on the wonderful contributions we have made to this society. We need to continue to talk about and push for the equality we still don’t have. We need to advocate for ourselves to make sure those young women following behind us have everything they need to be successful in this complicated world. As the mother of a young daughter (she’s 2 years old and I see so many fabulous qualities in her already) I want to create a world where she can be confident and pursue anything she wants. We owe it to ourselves and those around us to create that environment for ourselves too. 

For this Women’s History Month, I want to challenge you - yes you reading this - to find something related to women to advocate for. Get inspired: Check out the National Women’s History Museum. Think of the special women in your life: What is something that would or could have made an impact on their lives?  Would better paying jobs make a difference? Would more dedicated spaces for lactating mothers be beneficial? (I’m talking to the SJSU administration right now because this topic close to my heart.)  Better protections against gender based discrimination? Whatever your identified cause is, let it be known. And you don’t have to march in the streets. That is an option, but you can also write about it, make calls or even just show your support to those who need it. This is your call to action. Celebrate women by supporting us.

-Ponderings from the mind of Felicia McKee-Fegans

MPP workshop flyer

What's Up with craig?

As we enter March and how we recognize Women’s History Month, i am reminded of one of the “paths” that brought me to the practice of social justice education: a desire to “do something” about sexism...particularly as a guy...and working with other guys.  Over 30 years ago, as an undergraduate student, i had been engaged in some courses and some co-curricular experiences that got me thinking about social oppression and how it affected folks from marginalized communities. i didn’t have that kind of language at the time, and i wondered about intergroup relations, power differences and conflict between groups. While i did not think about power dynamics in a USA context as complexly as i might now, i wanted to be able to do something, but didn’t believe (at the time) i had a place to be helpful…

During my graduate studies, i met this guy, Jackson Katz, who was running a program at Northeastern University in Boston called “MVP” which stood for “Mentors in Violence Prevention”.  This program was in an office i was doing an internship in called The Study of Sport in Society.  This office tried to use sports culture as a vehicle for (what we now call) social justice education, like the MVP project.  The MVP project took a bystander approach with men to try to move sexist and rape-culture-supportive attitudes and behaviors to anti-sexist attitudes and behaviors.  We did this by holding these MVP sessions in locker rooms of men’s sports teams.  Jackson and the MVP project were instrumental in laying a theoretical foundation and provided concrete practice of engaging in social justice educational work that helped me find - at the time - a role to be able to chip away at problematic masculinity in myself, and in others.  It also helped make a bit more tangible roles to address social oppression and it’s manifestations (isms) from a place of privilege/social advantage that were new to me, at the time...which is a thread i still pursue. 

The micro and macro interventions that us men can do to interrupt sexist behaviors and attitudes are really important if we are at all interested in eliminating sexism.  Malcolm X spoke of racism as a white people’s problem...similarly, us cisgender men need to actively address sexism in ourselves, in our peers, and in our institutions, policies and structures that do violence to LGBTQ+ folks... and women...and others… 

As we think about Women’s History Month, what do we do as men that get in the way?  What are ways we can confront other men when we say or do sexist things?  What have I done lately?

EAG Update

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is proud to welcome the Employee Affinity Groups (EAGs) into our office! We are currently in the process of compiling the registration information on all of the pre-existing groups:

  • Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association
  • Black Faculty and Staff Association
  • Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association
  • Jewish Faculty and Staff Association
  • PRIDE Faculty and Staff Association

We hope to onboard everyone soon so we can support them as they contribute to the very important work of supporting our employees by creating space for belonging.  We are also very excited to share that we’re currently working on assisting in the creation of a new organization for Native American faculty and staff!  To learn more about the groups, please visit our website. If you would like assistance with forming an employee affinity group, please contact Felicia McKee-Fegans

Banner for Lightning Reads

The readings and resources in this section are designed to help our campus learn about theories, frameworks, research and resources that are helpful in addressing our key goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion by building our intellectual muscle to help us see our world, analyze our world, and apply this learning from where we are to increase equity. The readings are chosen because they are able to overview or introduce complex concepts in ways that promote understanding among a wide variety of readers, occupational foci, and time constraints. We hope you enjoy this regular posting.

Together and Alone? The Challenge of Talking about Racism on Campus

The State of Higher Education for Black Californians - The Campaign for College Opportunity

"The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" by Frederick Douglass

How knowledge about different cultures is shaking the foundations of psychology

ODEI Professional Engagement infographic
Employee Connections is a monthly meeting created by ODEI for staff, faculty, and administrators where they can share a virtual lunch or coffee break with their colleagues and talk about anything and everything that may be of interest to them and/or the group. This initiative was born last year as a result of the feedback received during the pre and post election sessions that ODEI held in partnership with University Personnel, Center for Faculty Development and LifeMatters EAP by Empathia where attendees suggested the creation of a space where people could meet over zoom and connect with each other since the pandemic had limited our interpersonal interactions. The intention of the Employee Connections sessions is to help facilitate meeting new people, learning from each other, and creating community. These sessions are for all SJSU employees, including those who work for our auxiliaries. Join us!
Women's History Month Calendar
Latina Ultra Runner.v1.png
CONTACT US     •     408-924-8168
Kathleen Wong(Lau), PhD
Felicia McKee-Fegans, MA Ed
craig John Alimo, PhD
Patience D. Bryant, PhD
IG: @pdb_phd
TW: @pdb_phd
Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas, MPA
facebook     twitter     instagram     youtube  
San Jose State University
Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0007

Last Updated Mar 23, 2021