Staff Editorial: Ode to ODEI

Illustration by Elizabeth Spooner.

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) recently closed down, and like a cheesy, one-hit wonder Semisonic song ringing in your ears – “Closing time – every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

During its time, ODEI aimed at offering a link for students to understand the aspects of working in a diverse culture, handling issues, what to expect, and readying yourself for the world ahead. ODEI offered everything from speakers to visual and performing arts that were free to the public and community. Requiring every degree within the college to complete a class as a part of the program, classes included everything from Alaska Native awareness to deaf awareness, from black history to gay and lesbian topics. ODEI left no hot topic unturned.

But after a successful year prior, ODEI hit a wall this past semester. While financially they seemed stable and moving, there seemed to be more issues left in the dark than were brought up in discussions. Now with the office closed, what does that mean to those students and members? Is it fair to throw it all by the wayside and re-advert to being a modern day Tom Yawkey?

Of course not.

If anything, the disbanding of the diversity office opens new doors for a collective camaraderie of those “retired” members who were once a part of the changing group. It’s an open letter to those remaining. Those members who have now found themselves with a huge void in their day-to-day – don’t give up on your goal.

While the ODEI office may be closed, this doesn’t mean the whole life lessons and practices of what the office truly believed in should follow suit. Rile the troops, throw fire back under your belief and help get the message back out that was so inspiring to each of you. Reach out to those on campus and help them understand what you’re conveying. Sure, you many no longer have your original “basecamp” that once existed within the ODEI office, but as with any war – the cause will move on.

Find a new home to call basecamp. Whether it is the gym after hours or a more majestic meeting upon the hill during the night – it certainly shouldn’t be the end. Get the emails rolling, the fancy letterheads posted all over campus, and the word-of-mouth that has proved beneficial in the past years.

This isn’t the process of taking two steps back; it’s about moving one to the side and still facing towards the goal ahead. Don’t let the recent occurrences deprave you from the end goal. Throw the blinders back on and refuse to be distracted. Only allow it to add the extra jet fuel to this fire within.

This isn’t the end of anything. It is more of a “test” to see if ODEI is truly dead, or only on a simple roadblock while the dormant cause lives on.


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