Ariza works to promote diversity on campus


Donovan WilsonReporter

Southern is a school full of students of all different backgrounds and Diane Ariza was brought in to promote diversity.

She arrived at Southern in the beginning of July to take on the role of Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

However, Ariza was publicly named to students as being chosen for the position in April. Her main responsibilities in this role are to essentially guide all sections of the school, faculty, students and everything in between. Her goal is working towards being the best school in terms of diversity.

“Chief diversity officers came about within the last 30 years so it’s fairly new,” said Ariza.

The concept of a position being entirely dedicated to the idea of adapting a university to diversity is a new idea for higher education.

As time goes on, she said the general demographics of the area have changed dramatically and that reflects on the student body at Southern.

“The fear is driving out the CEO because they fear they can’t do it all”, said Ariza.

A position such as Ariza’s helps delve out responsibilities of the higher ups in a company. They rub off on each other to collectively figure out “where Southern stands” in certain fields.

Much of Ariza’s career consisted of about 30 years in higher education as a professor of ethics, admissions or student affairs.

She held positions similar to hers here at Nazareth college and Quinnipiac University.

She is also a current board member at the National Association for chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education due to the positions she’s held in that field.

On top of all of these qualifications, Ariza also holds a doctorate of philosophy degree in sociology that she earned from Western Michigan University.

The major differences between the positions she has held at other universities is that their scope of diversity in their community was much lower than it is here at Southern, according to Ariza.

However, she said she has always been in positions that work closely with marginalized people.

A diversity position at a school is just as important to the students as it is to the faculty and general infrastructure. It helps to better integrate them into their ever changing community.

“We fail if we don’t allow space for us to have uncomfortable conversations” said Ariza.

With an election approaching, political ideologies have become a key component of diversity, according to Ariza.

“Rhetoric is marginalizing us and alienating us to a point of hate and disrespect” and that is where her duties come in; “trying to eliminate the feeling of political hostility on campus,” she said.

Ariza said she believes with President Trump in office. he creates a lot of “gray area” and rather than running from that gray, people must look at it scrutinizingly. It will damage our work towards diversity if we only focus on the black and white.

“I believe diversity is very prominent and strong at Southern,” said international business major, Sebastan Garzon, a sophomore.

Like many things right now, the COVID-19 pandemic has also greatly affected how Ariza does her job.

Her job does rely on face-to-face interactions which there are much less of nowadays due to the virtual switch.

The constantly changing environment makes diversity harder and harder to incorporate according to Ariza.

“This is work we should all do to be better citizens,” she said.

Photo credit: News.southernct.edu

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