University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
http://www.umn.edu/
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Our Voices: Indigenous Women and Women of Color

About

Our Voices: Indigenous and Women of Color is a dialogue group which aims to support and engage the intersection of identities, foster a safe space for identity development, self-expression, and self-reflection, and develop responsible leaders to advance the needs and enrich the experiences of indigenous women and women of color.

Our Voices is a joint initiative from the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE) and Women's Center in the Office for Equity and Diversity and Multicultural Student Engagement (MCSE) in the Office for Student Affairs. The dialogue group will kick off at the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year, meeting every other week, and will be co-facilitated by Cydney Gaines (MCAE), Stephanie Chrismon and Anise Mazone (MCSE), and Uyenthi Tran Myhre (Women's Center). Our Voices centers and prioritizes women-identified indigenous students, students of color, and multiracial students who are undergraduates at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. 

Register for Our Voices 

Students are encouraged to register for the dialogue group by completing this form. Participants can begin attending the dialogue group at any point during the year. 

Goals for Our Voices

  • Engage students in critical dialogue and self-reflection about their identities as indigenous and women of color and multiracial women-identified students at a predominantly white institution. By providing a safe space, participants will build trusting, supportive, and compassionate relationships with their peers and be able to acknowledge their resiliency as well as vulnerability. This group will contribute to “fostering strong social fabric and engagement,” a key aspect of the Fostering Just and Equitable Communities Grand Challenge.
  • Establish a sustainable safe space for IWWOC students. By having MCAE, Multicultural Student Engagement, and Women’s Center staff co-facilitate the dialogue group, we will create a safe - and brave - space for students, and continue offering the group year after year. Providing a space for “equitable and safe communities” is a key aspect of the Enhancing Individual and Community Capacity for a Changing World Grand Challenge.
  • Develop mentoring relationships with students as MCAE, Multicultural Student Engagement, and Women’s Center staff. As co-facilitators, we will validate and affirm IWWOC student experiences, model support and trust by sharing our own stories, and act as a first point of contact to other campus resources as necessary. Using the University of Minnesota Student Development Outcomes as a guide, co-facilitators and guest facilitators will support student achievement in several areas.

History and Background

The Women's Center organizes the Indigenous Women and Women of Color Student Summit (IWWOCSS) every other year, with the next summit taking place in March 2018. Students have requested that such a space be provided on campus on a more regular basis. While our campus offers many student cultural groups, we often hear that there is not a space for indigenous women and women of color to come together (outside IWWOCSS); nor are there many spaces for multiracial women students to engage around their identities. Our Voices was jointly created by MCAE, Multicultural Student Engagement, and the Women's Center in response to this need.

The name of this dialogue group centers both indigenous women and women of color. A resource that may be helpful in understanding why we chose to name both indigenous women and women of color in the title of this dialogue group can be found here, via Debbie Reese at the American Indians in Children's Literature website.

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