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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Our Mission

The members of Romance Languages & Literatures are committed to building and maintaining an environment of mutual respect, equity and inclusion where all individuals are valued for who they are and what they contribute. We encourage our faculty, students and staff to be active members of this dynamic learning community, working together to promote cultural awareness, understanding and appreciation of diversity in its many facets.  We believe that diversity, equity and inclusion are integral for creating excellence at the University of Michigan. 

Student Spotlight

Arcelia Gutiérrez
PhD Romance Languages and Literatures, Spanish 2019
Latinx Studies, Media Studies, Media Activism Studies

What does diversity mean to you? 

Diversity goes beyond embracing and celebrating differences. It represents a social justice mission that fights for the inclusion of systemically marginalized communities. True diversity seeks to grant agency and power to historically disenfranchised groups.

How does your work engage with diversity topics and what motivates you to do so?

As an interdisciplinary scholar, my work engages diversity and intersectionality by researching how Latinxs engage in media activism and advocacy. In other words, I explore how Latinx media activist organizations challenge mediated stereotypes and push for the inclusion of Latinxs in various media industries, such as television, film, and radio. The recent political turmoil in the United States and the scapegoating and vilification of Latinxs fuel me to pursue this research. My hope in conducting this work is to not only uncover how our community fights against disparaging depictions put forth in the media, but to also celebrate our agency and humanity.

Ph.D. dissertation "Deploying Latinidad: Citizenship, Activism, and Media Advocacy from the 1980s to the Present”.  Arcelia was the founding student member of the RLL Diversity Committee and will be joining the faculty at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, where she will begin her appointment as Assistant Professor of Latino/a Studies in the Fall 2019.

Current RLL Efforts Towards Building And Maintaining An Inclusive Environment Include:

Rising 2nd year PhD Student Dayanira Moya Shares Her Experience on Working with the 2019 Rackham MICHHERS Summer Program

During this summer I worked as a GSA for the 2019 Michigan Humanities Emerging Research Scholars Program ( MICHHERS ) along with Jessica Flores. Two years ago I was part of MICHHERS 2017 cohort, so I already anticipated what the process would be like for the students. The objective of the program is that students have the experience of what it is to be a graduate student, specifically, they have the opportunity to develop professional networks with graduate students and faculty. Moreover, during the program they have the opportunity to develop or edit a research paper with the support of their RLL faculty mentors. At the end of the program the Romance Languages and Literature department organizes a roundtable for the students to briefly present what they worked on during their stay in Ann Arbor. I remember how nervous I felt about the roundtable. In my case, the idea of presenting my research paper to several professors made me feel extremely anxious. But in the end I realized that it was a very informal presentation and the mentors were there to recommend and offer their feedback. Taking this experience into account, Jessica and I were determined to calm the students from the beginning by assuring them that the roundtable was informal and that there was nothing to worry about. And I think that helped them a lot not to worry too much.

There are encounters that promote cultural, professional and community topics. I think our role in the program was in a certain way to be peer mentors for these students and to present an academic and individual experience of what it means to study in this program and live in this city. We organized lunches and dinners with the help of Desiree Laurencelle, RLL Graduate Student Coordinator,  and we shared enjoyable conversations with them. It was very nice to listen to their doubts and how they are coping with this process of "now what?", that part of academic life in which we have to decide where we will continue our graduate studies. Recently I was in their place and I still remember all my anxieties and fears. It was really nice that they felt that we were there as a support group for this very challenging part of their lives.

Moreover, some of them are part of the first generation that are going to continue graduate studies and they come from Latin backgrounds, so we shared differences perspectives and I sympathized very quickly with all of  them. In fact, we made a small informal panel of questions and answers and they asked us a lot of questions about the graduate program and asked us to honestly tell our experiences. I think that an atmosphere of trust and solidarity was created between us, we even discussed our insecurities about the writing and publishing process. Jessica and I really enjoyed sharing with them and I'm sure they also had a great time. Finally, my experience collaborating with this program led me to reflect on my first year as a graduate student in the RLL department. Their questions make me think about the difficulties, challenges and the good times I have experienced as I get used to living in Ann Arbor and to academic life.