Institutional Equity & Belonging

 

We at MCLA and in the Institution for Equity and Belonging know that college campuses help shape the future. And we also know that the future of social justice work goes far beyond tolerance, or even acceptance. The future of social justice celebrates, uplifts, and empowers. It knows when to listen and when to speak up. It values learning and education as much as action. It leads with radical compassion and empathy. And of course, as our students know, it makes use of all of the tools available to us in the modern age.

These are the values we aim to foster in our students in their time here, and we know how important it is for them to have those experiences both in and out of the classroom.  That is why we have created multiple spaces on our campus for students to share experiences, build community, learn and grow as they dive into both their lives experiences and identities, and explore those of others. Our students, staff, and institution aim to shape the future together by embracing and uplifting diversity in all its forms as an agent of social change toward the future we all deserve.

Spaces, Student Organizations, & Resources

Gender and Sexuality Center Logo

The GSC serves as a safe space for queer and women students to cultivate community, learn, and grow together. We aim to increase awareness and proficiency around the identities and issues facing women and queer communities both on campus and in our surrounding communities. Our programs help us learn and share, connect with our community, increase awareness, advocate, and empower on individual and community levels. Our spaces also include a variety of resources, including the Gender & Sexuality Library, a variety of informational resources to support wellbeing and activism of all students, the Affirmation Closet (which provides identities affirming clothing for all MCLA students), and mentorship opportunities. 

Additionally, Out@MCLA is a voluntary community of MCLA staff, faculty, and administrators who self-identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Through this list, we hope that students who identify as members of the community will be able to find mentors who are also members of the community, and of course, that staff, faculty, and students alike find a safe their support network.

ALANA Graduates

The Multicultural Center, as well as the Empowerment Lounge, serve as a safe space for African, Latino, Asian, Native American, and international students. We work with the entire campus to build community, celebrate diversity and inclusion, and foster student success. The ALANA Club Council, Executive Boards, and office student assistants all have extended office hours in the Center. Our programs help us learn and share, build connections within and across shared cultural experiences, increase awareness, advocate, and empower on individual and community levels. Our spaces also include a variety of resources, including informational resources, mentorship opportunities, scholarship programs, and internship opportunities. 

Equity & Belonging Programing

We aim for all of our students to feel safe, seen, and sovereign in their identities and our community, which is why we have a variety of ongoing programs & events !

Equit and belonging Calendar September 2022: 9/12 GSC Grand Openning, 9/19 Body Reclamation Workshop and Rise Together for Safety and Justice Walk, 9/23 Am I Bo, Pan, Omni? Desmystifying M-Spec identities, 9/28 Taking Care of My Intersectional Self (A Workshop)

Staff

Chis MacDonald-Dennis

Chris MacDonald-Dennis (they/he)

Senior Advisor for Institutional Equity & Belonging

Dr. Christopher Macdonald-Dennis, originally from Revere, MA, received his BA in Sociology from Framingham State University, his MS in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University, his doctorate in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his MDiv from Lexington Theological Seminary.  
 
Chris, a biracial, disabled, raised working-class genderqueer gay man who was the first in his family to attend college, has been a strong advocate for equity, justice and inclusion in higher education. Throughout his career, he has created numerous programs to help all students learn across difference as well as programs to help minoritized students thrive on college campuses. 
 
Here at MCLA, Chris continues to champion inclusion and justice for faculty, staff, and students. He works daily to advocate for and enact new programs and policies that educate, protect, and uplift, ensuring a campus culture where all members feel that they belong. 

Arlene Theodore

Arlene Theodore (she/her)

Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Initiatives

Arlene is a passionate educator, mentor, and leader. Her love and passion for social justice is implemented in her everyday work. As a black woman who has attended predominantly white Institutions her entire life, she seeks to help students of color navigate their own personal experience and hardships while attending a PWI. Through a social justice lens, Arlene aims to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive spaces on campus. With extensive experience in the field of Higher Education, Arlene prides herself on mastering the art of creating authentic, brave, bold, and safe spaces. The programs that you can find her doing include Intersectionality, racial battle fatigue, cultural identity, race relations, microaggressions, and white privilege. As a champion for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice she continues to serve as an advocate, a resource, and a mentor for current students and her mentees who have graduated. Through her trainings, programs, and workshops she aims to educate folks on the importance of everyone doing “this work”, in an effort to be more of a compassionate and inclusive campus that truly creates a sense of belonging. 

Ara Phoenixx

Ara Phoenixx (they/she)

Program Coordinator for Gender & Sexuality

Passionate about social justice and intersectionality, Ara is a queer, nonbinary educator, mentor, and coach. They draw on their experience in education, holistic wellness, and the queer experience to create safe spaces that empower and uplift others to lead with confidence, authenticity, and inclusivity. Ara loves integrating intersectionality work and mindfulness practices to help students and staff prioritize their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Equally, they aim to approach programming through an intersectional lens, creating space to discuss feminism, LGBTQIA+ identities, and the intersections of other lived experiences (such as race, class, or disability) as they aim to foster community, education, and activism. In their role at MCLA, Ara serves as the professional staff leader for the Gender & Sexuality Center, serving as a mentor for all LGBTQIA+ and women students, as an advisor for student-led affinity groups, and as a program coordinator for the GSC.