Highlighting Tech diversity programs

The Office of Minority Educational Development (OMED) is housed within the Chapin Building in Harrison Square and is responsible for a lot of programming for minority students. // Photo by Joey D’Adamio Student Publications

As an institution with a student body and staff hailing from a vast array of backgrounds, Tech is intentional with its aims to sustain a diverse and inclusive campus. 

According to the Office of Student Diversity Programs’ official website, they “have students who represent every state in the nation and more than 100 countries in the world. [Thus,] Georgia Tech students should graduate knowing how to learn, live, work and lead in a global world.”  With this sentiment in mind, Tech established a collection of initiatives called the Student Diversity Programs. 

The Student Diversity Programs’ website states that its objective is to “[provide] an institutionalized approach for meeting the co-curricular needs of students by coordinating and planning educational opportunities that enhance interaction and learning across groups.” 

Additionally, the website says that “[they] also [work] to eliminate discrimination and acts of intolerance on campus.” 

Zachary Booker, a fourth-year ME major and a student assistant for the Office, said he has come to understand that their primary mission is to “ensure that every student, no matter their race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, feels welcome.” 

The endeavors intended to guide and inform those that make up the Tech community include frequent workshop and training events and the opportunity to become a Diversity Ambassador for the School.

The education programs mentioned previously cover a variety of topics; for instance, a conversation on how to address and reduce the sources and implications of implicit bias within an organization took place on Feb. 23 at the John Lewis Student Center — a new facility at Tech with theaters, dining options and meeting spaces. 

Beyond the talk that occurred on Feb. 23, there are many other events to look forward to well into March and April, especially designed to support students.

According to their website, the Student Diversity Program is hosting a training on microaggressions in early March, wherein “participants will become more aware of the significant impact that their words and actions have on other people. In addition, participants will begin to deal with micro-inequities and micro-triggers in a forum where they are safely brought to the forefront for discussion.”

Similarly, they organized an event titled “Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes: Linking Performance to Perception” for April 11. Like the previous event, it will analyze how bias negatively influences the decisions of others. 

If an organization, department or lecturer is interested in facilitating an individual, company-specific training session, the program offers resources for that as well. According to Booker, the organization is also in charge of organizing the annual Martin Luther King Jr. event.

Moreover, as written on their website, the Office of Student Diversity Programs jumpstarted the Ambassador program in 2013. 

Anisha Kanukolanu, a third-year NEUR major and a current Diversity Ambassador, said that “the goal of the program is to promote DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiatives and education for the student community. The Office serves as a resource for individuals and organizations to grow in their education process as well as better align with their values through creating inclusive and equitable communities.”

As an ambassador, she gets to participate in the workshops and training sessions mentioned earlier. Furthermore, she and her fellow ambassadors host monthly programming to cover a plethora of issues, such as gentrification.

She continued on to explain how interacting with the Tech community as a Diversity Ambassador has improved her personal and professional abilities. 

“Working in the Office has really pushed me to grow in my leadership skills. Through the experiences I’ve had thus far by collaborating with them, I have had the opportunity to connect to students in other fields and programs that also have a passion for DEI-related change,” she said.

“The Office as a whole has taken so many measures to keep their space open and welcoming to people who want to bring in new ideas and change to the [whole] Georgia Tech community,” continued Kanukolanu.  She also serves as the Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for CPC (Collegiate Panhellenic Council) and the Education Chair at Tech’s Asian American Student Association (AASA) organization. She noted that the Office also encouraged her to consider and explore other pursuits.

“They have been extremely supportive of my goals in my other DEI-related student leadership positions. Knowing that I have the support of the Office when I feel confused or stressed has been a great proponent for the reason I am able to advocate for change in the various communities I am involved in,” said Kanukolanu. 

Booker expressed a similar attitude of gratuity towards the Office and their programs.

“I have been a student assistant in the Office since 2021, and it has been one of the best decisions I have made at Tech. Working here has given me the opportunity to know all of the resources available for students. This job also gave me the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and opened my horizons. I also formed a close relationship with Dean [Stephanie] Ray, and I was able to learn so much from her,” said Booker. 

Kanukolanu explained that the benefits of having a program like Student Diversity Ambassadors surpass the self, as she has seen how it has impacted the entire community too.  

“I have seen the work of the Office bring together cultural student organizations and students from all areas of campus together to discuss and learn about various issues impacting our local and campus communities. Additionally, for instance, Dean Stephanie Ray — the [Associate Dean] and Director of Diversity Programs — has created The Collective, which is a collaboration between various resource centers to best serve the needs of marginalized student groups on campus,” said Kanukolanu. 

She suggested that the best way to get involved in the work of the Office is to join the Ambassadors team or to attend office programming, and Booker added that stopping by Smithgall Building to check for flyers is a helpful resource as well.  

To learn more about the Programs’ upcoming events and to submit a request for a workshop, please refer to diversityprograms.gatech.edu and follow the links on the website to access the request form to host your own workshop on diversity.