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 Tuesday, May 8, 2007 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Residential Academic Program Spotlight - Hallett Diversity Program
By Corey H. Jones, sophomore, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Residential Academic Programs (RAPS) can be found in residence halls all across campus, connecting diverse students with similar interests while promoting extensive understanding in a vast range of subject areas. In this series, we explore these innovative programs that provide many undergraduates with close social and intellectual communities and shared learning and living experiences. Part eight of this series features the Hallett Hall Diversity Program.

The goal of the Hallett Diversity Program is to enhance student's awareness of multicultural issues, and growing interest has sparked a major transition.

According to Hallett Hall Director Maria Hoffman, students who apply to the program are looking to be a part of an open-minded community.

"We get lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and allied (LGBTQA) students who are really passionate about issues of diversity. It is much more of a social, community-building type of RAP than it is necessarily academic," she said.

The program is working to establish itself as a complete RAP. Currently, the Diversity Program does not have a director, an onsite faculty member, a solidified curriculum, or required fees; Hoffman described it as a "semi-functioning RAP."

"Everything is makeshift right now and we are trying to do the best we can. The academic piece has been lacking, and that is where we would like to grow more," she said.

The program currently offers a course titled "Intro to LGBT Studies." Hallett recently developed a classroom on the first floor, and the program plans to offer more courses next year, including "Intro to LGBT Literature" and an ethnic studies course.

While all Hallett residents are encouraged to participate in activities, the RAP, in conjunction with the Spectrum Program, includes about 30 active participants who live together in one wing of the residence hall.

Three diversity mentors and one diversity coordinator work together as Hallett's student diversity staff, responsible for facilitating community experiences.

Freshman Stacy Salas is a diversity mentor. Salas' participation in Spectrum led to her involvement with the RAP.

"Diversity is immensely significant to the progression of the university. It helps create an inclusive environment where instead of judging because of our differences in culture, language, and ethnicities, we embrace them," she said.

Throughout the year, the team organizes evening events and brings in speakers to help with activities. For instance, staff members from the admissions office have conducted debates on affirmative action. Every month, the program highlights a different issue such as race, religion, or disability.

"My favorite part of the program is being exposed to a lot of issues and events," Salas said.

The RAP's social and educational activities also include films screenings, field trips, and dinner events with faculty and staff.

Participants are constantly generating new ideas to expand the diversity atmosphere, including the possibilities of creating gender-neutral bathrooms and organizing a retreat to begin the school year.

"Students are attracted to this program because they want to be in a safe place where they can feel comfortable," Hoffman said.

"I've always maintained a commitment to social justice and making a difference by helping students to learn and grow, and this opportunity has really changed me."

For more information, visit the Hallett Diversity Program website.

Residential Academic Program Spotlight - Hallett Diversity Program

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