Members of the MACUHO region, it is with great pleasure to present to you this year’s recipients of the Student Staff Commitment to Social Justice Award. Much similar to the Commitment to Social Justice Award that is presented to a professional every year at the Annual MACUHO conference, this award recognizes a student staff member in the MACUHO region who serves as an example to others through a commitment to diversity and social justice beyond the scope of one’s professional responsibilities. The nominee is a person who demonstrates and engages others through action the ideals of cultural diversity, interculturalism, and social justice. This nominee’s initiatives are in the forefront of exploring issues regarding diversity and social justice and they actively work to expand their knowledge to build a more inclusive and engaged campus and global community.
The three student recipients were given a certificate of appreciation signed by the Diversity Co-Chairs and Shigeo Iwamiya, MACUHO President. The awards were given to the students at their respective departmental closing banquet by their nominators/supervisors. Congratulations to the recipients and much thanks to their nominators.
This week we showcase Aarti Ramdaney from Cedar Crest College.
"Aarti Ramdaney is a senior and serves as Head RA of my Resident Advisor staff this year. She is also Vice President of the Student Government Association. Aarti has always done a wonderful job highlighting diversity through programs and bulletin boards; however, some of her recent interactions with residents on our campus have inspired me to nominate her for this award.
Over the past two months Aarti has been working with a group of residents who feel that they are experiencing racism on our campus. At first, the group told Aarti what they were experiencing as more of an "FYI.” Since Aarti is the Vice President of our Student Government Association (SGA), the group of women wanted to let her know that they planned to voice their concerns at an upcoming SGA meeting. As it turns out, many of this group’s concerns involved their interactions in the residence halls. Aarti took the time to find out more about their situation. She really listened to this group of women when many others felt that their concerns were unfounded. She never discounted what they said and gave the group of women recommendations for how to proceed.
Aarti suggested that these students make a list of everything that they were experiencing on campus. She believed that through this, she could provide even more advice for how to move forward. She worked with our Executive Director of Women’s Leadership (the advisor to SGA) to see if there was anything more she could do to assist in this situation. Aarti also filled me in as her hall director and I was able to examine why these accusations of racism may have been occurring.
After reading this situation, one may think, "well, it sounds like she did everything right, but what really makes this different from what any RA should do in this situation?” To me, it’s the follow-up that makes Aarti’s commitment to social justice stand out. As I mentioned above, Aarti asked the women to write a list of experiences. Aarti kept following up and asking them how things were going. She didn’t quit her involvement with this group when they stopped coming to her – she made sure to seek them out to see how they are doing. I feel that student staff members usually do a great job when students come to them with a problem, but sometimes they fail to see the importance of follow-up – especially when a situation seems like it’s "over.”
Aarti allowed these students to have their own experience. She knew that their experience was their "truth” and that even though she wasn’t observing everything that they were, it didn’t mean that their experience should not be validated. To me this is the essence of committing one’s self to social justice and this is why I believe Aarti is the best candidate for this award.”
- Kelly Ann Ryan, Cedar Crest College
The Professional Staff Commitment to Social Justice Award call for nominations will be coming out late summer. In the meantime, please take the time to consider one of your colleagues or employees for this prestigious award, which will be presented at our Annual Conference.