History of GADI

The Graduate Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion began after conversations between graduate students and graduate program directors in Fall 2017. Graduate students sought to recruit more diverse graduate students within the College, and develop programs, policies, and resources that would promote the inclusion and belonging of a diverse graduate student body. Many graduate students found that existing university resources were designed for either undergraduate students or faculty, and therefore did not adequately serve their needs. Graduate students also envisioned stronger efforts when forming coalitions across departments. The Psychology Department’s BRIDGE program served as a model for what GADI might achieve on a college-wide level. Between Fall 2017 and Spring 2018, graduate students hosted two listening sessions within the College to determine the primary concerns and interests of their colleagues. Graduate students voiced the need for better community and cohesion among marginalized graduate students, climate surveys, pedagogical resources, and gender-inclusive bathrooms.

The Graduate Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion formalized its mission statement and organizational structure in Spring 2018. The Senior Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Scott Bennett serves as the advisor for GADI.

In Fall 2019, Intersections was formed. Intersections is an identity-based discussion group for graduate students experiencing both gender and racial marginalization. Inspired by WOCE (Women of Color Empowerment), an undergraduate discussion group for women of color sponsored by CAPS, Intersections formed from a desire to have a graduate-student space to discuss experiences of gender and racial marginalization. Intersections also formed with the intent to include non-womxn oppressed genders such as gender non-conforming individuals and transmen, who are often excluded from “women-only” spaces of empowerment.

In Spring 2020, GADI met with the incoming Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Clarence Lang. At this meeting, graduate students expressed that GADI had been limited by members’ capacity to conduct this service work in addition to their roles as students and graduate assistants; one student requested the College create a graduate assistantship to provide structural support for GADI’s endeavors. With advocacy from Dean Lang and under supervision from Dr. Bennett, the assistantship was created for Fall 2020.

Structure of GADI 

GADI has four committees, in which graduate students work to set and achieve goals. The projects and direction of GADI are determined by the committees.

  1. The Social/Community Committee will focus on community-building by providing social support, creating networking opportunities, and facilitating interpersonal connections amongst members.
  2. The Education and Training Committee will focus on knowledge-sharing by collecting and distributing information about diversity and inclusivity in the academy as well as by providing training opportunities and resources for students, faculty, and the public.
  3. The Public Affairs Committee will focus on policy advocacy by providing communications within the organization, identifying institutional resources, and coordinating outreach across campus and beyond, to surrounding communities.
  4. The Steering Committee will provide procedural and organizational guidance. This may include coordinating a schedule of events, collaborating on the activities of other committees, and setting policies and priorities for the organization.

D. Scott Bennett

D. Scott Bennett

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and Distinguished Professor of Political Science

105 Sparks Building
(814) 865-1439

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