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   APRIL 2020 ISSUE  

    I: Community Updates
            Diversity Month
    II: Community News           
            Profile: Graduate student Nick Pino 
            Profile: Graduate student Safiyah Muhammad 
    III: Upcoming Events
            LGBTQ+ Day of Silence
            Sexual Assault Awareness Month
    IV: Resources 
            COVID-19: What's In a Name?
            Reducing Stigma
            Mental Health and Coping Resources



April is Diversity Month

These are unprecedented times in our community and beyond. Seemingly within weeks, the world as we know it has transformed into an unusual normal. And in this chaos, we now realize more than ever the value of inclusive excellence. The pandemic has laid bare systematic inequalities that many of us have been working together to address. We want to thank all the students, faculty, and staff who are continually speaking for those who are marginalized or left without resources financially, technologically, or socially in these uncertain times.  

Please keep your thoughts and feedback coming so that collectively we can guide and engage university leaders as they craft action plans and policies that do not adversely affect diverse students, faculty, and staff. 

Please reach out to Dr. Lloyd Munjanja at (217) 300-4174 or munjanja@illinois.edu to schedule a Zoom video appointment to discuss concerns you have that have been caused by COVID-19 impacting your research and teaching. Alternatively, we have a confidential and anonymous portal that you can use to share your concerns. After submission, the information will be reviewed ONLY by the Associate Director of Graduate and Program Climate, Dr. Lloyd Munjanja, who will decide upon the appropriate action steps that include a discussion with the Department Head/leadership, review by the Climate/Diversity committee or informing University authorities/leadership.




Getting to know graduate student Nick Pino

The Diversity Committee helps guide efforts to recruit under-represented minority and women graduate students, post-docs and faculty and also creates policies and practices to help build an inclusive environment. Nick Pino is one of the graduate student members of this committee, which also includes members of the faculty and staff. He said this committee is excellent and believes some of the group's recommendations have been meaningful.

"It opens a dialogue between every level of the departmental hierarchy without the concern of power imbalance, which is an excellent and rare experience," Pino said. Read more


Getting to know graduate student Safiyah Muhammad

In her graduate student career in the Department of Chemistry, Safiyah Muhammad has been involved with various committees. One that she's currently a member of is the Diversity Committee.

Muhammad said the "importance of diversity goes without saying, as there are many scientific studies to show the benefit of diversity to individuals and the infrastructure in which those individuals work and exercise." Read more




LGBTQ+ Day of Silence

The LGBTQ+ Day of Silence is a national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ students and allies around the world take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools. GLSEN, a national organization founded by a group of teachers in 1990 to support more affirming learning environments for LGBTQ youth, organizes the annual Day of Silence, which is marking its 25th anniversary on April 24. This year it will be a virtual event. In a recent mass e-mail, the Illinois Student Government LGBTQ+ Advocacy Task Force said the day of silence allows for reflection on "what we and those around us are doing to either silence or give voice to the LGBTQ+ community in spaces such as classes, departments and the university as a whole." In light of classes moving online and events being canceled, the task force suggested ways to still participate in this annual event, including making social media posts encouraging others to read about the history of the Day of Silence. Read more

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month 

This April, the Women's Resources Center (WRC) is highlighting Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) digitally. Every week, the center will be sharing content that inspires and sustains. Content will be released daily through WRC social media platforms and then posted on the center's website at the end of each week. Read more




COVID-19: What's In a Name?

Jerry Kang at UCLA's Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion writes that "COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has introduced a new term to our lexicon: 'social distancing.' I confess I dread that term. To me, it sounds like social ostracization, stigmatization, the 'othering' of those who are marked as outsiders. If it were up to me, I would've picked 'social buffering,' 'safe distancing,' or even 'safe spacing.' Perhaps I'm just linguistically picky. But words matter. I can't help wonder what difference a name could make." Read more

Reducing Stigma

Public health emergencies, such as the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), are stressful times for people and communities. Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things. Read more

Mental Health and Coping Resources

The outbreak of coronavirus may be stressful for a variety of reasons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include fear and worry about your own health and the health of loved ones, changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems, increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. The Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has assembled a very comprehensive package of resources specifically for students along with resources that are available to the public in the Urbana-Champaign community. Read more