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Diversity Matters

Diversity Mini-Grants

Diversity Grants are awarded by the Diversity Council to UNI projects and events that enhance awareness of and education about issues of diversity at UNI.  Diversity Grants align with the definition, mission and vision of diversity at UNI. Anyone enrolled at UNI or working at the institution may apply for up to $1,500 to support diversity-related projects and initiatives. To access the Diversity Mini-Grant application, click here.

Beginning in the Spring of 2012, over 12 Diversity Mini-Grants have been awarded for various projects throughout UNI and the community in efforts to enhance the awareness of and education about diversity issues. These projects work to create a more welcoming community and prepare students to thrive in a diverse, global environment. Details on each project awarded a grant are provided below:

Japanese Kaji-Daiko Drum Stands Brings Culture to Listeners:

In September of 2008, The UNI Kaji-Daiko Taiko Ensemble made its debut at the dedication of the newly rebuilt Russell Hall. The Taiko Ensemble showcases the traditional drumming style that originates in Japan. Since then, this ensemble has performed concerts on and off campus for a wide variety of audiences, exposing them to one of only two World Music Ensembles sponsored by the UNI School of Music. Previously, the group has been able to perform two different styles of Taiko music known as Tachi Uchi where the drum is played face up, and Yokomen Uchi where the drum is played horizontally. While this allowed the ensemble to play a number of traditional pieces, the group wished to purchase specially designed drum stands, allowing them to play a third style, allowing them to add more pieces to their repertoire. The Kaji-Daiko Taiko Ensemble performs at least three concerts a year on the UNI campus and looks forward to adding this third style of music and technique to their performances. In doing so, they hope to greatly enhance the cultural experience of those going to listen to, as well as those performing in the ensemble.

*Information Courtesy of Professor Randy Hogancamp, Associate Professor, School of Music

Third Annual Disability Summit Hosted at UNI:

On October 10th, UNI hosted the 3rd Annual Regent Institutions Disability Awareness Summit. Faculty, staff and students from Iowa’s three regent institutions were invited to participate in the day-long event during which they were able to not only learn more about disability awareness, but collaborate with colleagues from other institutions. Each institution was represented at the event, with a total of 56 people participating.

 This year’s event had a special focus on assistive and accessible technology and its ability to create an inclusive environment. Keynote speaker, Tim Creagan, Senior Accessibility Specialist in Information Technology from the United States Access Board, provided an overview of the accessible features on everyday items such as cell phones that allow individuals with disabilities access to the technology. He also discussed different legislation that requires federally funded entities to uphold accessible standards when developing technology and websites. After the keynote, attendees were given the chance to break out into different sessions focusing on universal design in learning, employee wellness, and accessible technology and websites. Collaborative discussions followed these breakout sessions, allowing for attendees to share and learn among their peers. UNI also showcased some unique efforts happening on campus through a resource fair that was available for most of the afternoon.

*Information Courtesy of Ashley Brickley, Student Disability Services Coordinator

The Shining Stars Girls Project Looks Ahead to the Future:

The Shining Stars Girls Project is designed to help African American girls grow and develop emotionally, socially, physically, cognitively, spiritually, and to promote goal-oriented thinking. Approximately 55 girls in elementary and middle school are enrolled in the program with several more on the wait list to join. The children are picked up from their respective schools and brought to campus. Afterwards, each student is dropped off at their addresses rather than a bus stop to ensure safety. The group meets on a weekly basis at the Schindler Education Center, providing them with access to computers, games, and other resources. Weekly activities are provided including poetry as well as having the girls work on Michelle Obama’s “Girls on the Move” program where they learn about healthy habits. Currently, the Shining Stars are looking forward to putting on a talent show that they will invite the “Young Male Leaders” to join. The program is continuously evolving and expanding and is currently preparing for the beginning of a new semester and the beginning of even more learning experiences for these children.

*Information Courtesy of Gloria Kirkland Holmes, Director of The Shining Stars Girls Project

Humans vs. Zombies: Live Action Game of Tag:

From October 26th through November 2nd, approximately 200 students across the UNI campus participated in a Live Action Game of Tag known as Humans vs. Zombies. The game was marketed toward a diverse array of student groups at UNI. Participants included members of CIEP, CATS, To Write Love on Her Arms, Multicultural Teaching Alliance, Feminist Action League, UNI Proud, UNIFI, Gamers Brigade, and Students Against a Violent Environment. In addition to being a game of tag, several “missions” were included in the game, encouraging the “humans” in the game to keep from simply locking themselves inside out of the “zombies” paths. Four of the five missions had elements of diversity woven into their storyline. These missions included such elements as finding a student who could only communicate via American Sign Language and communicating with them to find the instructions to complete the mission and gathering puzzle pieces that had been distributed to various student organizations. At the end of the week, participants came together to talk about their adventures, many students saying that they have gained friendships that they plan to continue after the conclusion of the event. The game proved to be a success with students coming together and showing a great amount of teamwork and inclusiveness amongst members of all organizations and backgrounds.

*Information Courtesy of Linda McLaury, Access Services Coordinator, Library

Camp Multimedia Provides Diversity Scholarships to Attendees:

For five summers, Camp Multimedia has provided kids in grades 6-9 with the chance to develop projects using technology. The students work with UNI’s computer labs and software and this year were given instruction in one of four areas; video game design, digital publishing, animation, or music video editing. This
year, the camp was held from June 18 until June 22 and hosted 31 students, providing them with one-on-one interaction as they created their projects. Of those students, four were provided with scholarships, giving them the opportunity to attend this camp when otherwise, they likely would not have. The students given the scholarships came from a variety of backgrounds both ethnically and economically. The grants covered the cost of registration and lunches for the week for each of the four students awarded. These scholarships, created with the funding provided by the Diversity Mini-Grant, not only allowed the students to receive a unique educational experience, but also allowed all children present at Camp Multimedia, a more diverse environment to learn in.

*Information Courtesy of Jim O’Loughlin, Associate Professor, Languages and Literatures

 The 2nd Annual “Thinking Inclusively” Event, “Inclusive Education and the American Dream”:

On Thursday, October 18th, the 2nd annual Thinking Inclusively: Inclusive Education & the American Dream event was held. Over 100 individuals attended the affair including students, educators, faculty, and community members. The event explored, “how educational opportunity, particularly the right to be fully included in one’s school community, impacts one’s ability to achieve the American dream.”   The occasion consisted of three parts. A reception started off the event where undergraduate research presentations were shown that explored disability in the media. Following this, a screening of the film Willing and Able was shown. The film features the O’Hearn Elementary School where students from a multitude of backgrounds learn alongside each other. Wrapping up the night, the film’s director, John Doucet beside the former principal of the O’Hearn school, William Henderson held a Q and A session with the audience. The two also provided comment relating to the question, “How do we support all students in reaching their educational potential and thereby achieving the American dream?” The night proved to be a success, with participants of the event stating that it was a powerful and educational event for all who attended.

*Information Courtesy of Amy Petersen, Associate Professor, Special Education

Mentoring Through the Arts:

Henry Williams, doctoral student at UNI is looking to bring together multicultural high school student to expose them to the world of art. With this mentoring program, Williams is looking to recruit students of underrepresented groups, ethnic minorities, and first generation college student throughout the Cedar Valley including Cedar Falls and Waterloo. Although still in the planning stages, Mentoring through the Arts plans on working with faculty from the School of HPELS to recruit UNI students and faculty members to teach dance as part of the after-school mentoring program. High Schools are currently being contacted for participation in the program as it rolls into action this coming spring semester.

*Information courtesy of Henry Williams.