The Center for Diversity and Student Leadership (CDSL) hosted an event on Thursday, April 11 to celebrate the relaunch of its space from an office to a center. The CDSL provides support for first-generation, low-income, transfer, veteran and undocumented students, while aiming to educate all students on issues of social justice.
At the launch party, President Biddy Martin praised the success of Tenzin Kunor, the director of diversity and student leadership.
“This set of communities of students is fabulous and a lot of fun for me,” Martin said. “I am thinking of transfer students, our veterans and first-generation students, the latter of whom I strongly identify with. All of you who frequent this center, what a great resource and necessary set of resources.”
“Tenzin and I share living in Wisconsin. We have that ‘can-do’ Wisconsin attitude, which Tenzin has used to create a wonderful resource,” she added.
Angie Tissi-Gassoway, the associate dean for diversity and inclusion, also applauded the work of the CDSL. “I really want to thank the CDSL and the staff … for your working relationships with your campus partners. It’s off the charts,” she said.
Kunor then spoke about the growth of the CDSL since its inception three years ago. According to Kunor, the CDSL was founded as an office. The staff didn’t have a physical space until September 2017.
“With the acquisition of an office and our integration into resource center team model, we transitioned from an office over to a center. We never had a chance to celebrate our growth over the last two years,” Kunor said.
The change in title from office to center is significant to the staff in the CDSL, yet Kunor said that there are little practical differences.
According to Josue Sanchez Hernandez ’21, the leadership and development program coordinator at the CDSL, the recognition of the CDSL as a resource center “reflects Amherst’s trend to further provide resources and support for first-gen, low income, transfer and veteran students.”
Kunor said that supporting these specific groups of students is a national trend “in growing consciousness around first-gen and low-income student identities and experiences. Our growth has coincided with those trends within higher education as a whole,” he said.
“Overall, [the change] represents our growth and our alignment with other resource centers,” Kunor said. The other resource centers on campus include the Queer Resource Center, the Multicultural Resource Center, the Women’s and Gender Center and the Center for International Student Engagement.
Sanchez Hernandez was especially proud of what the CDSL has accomplished. “We have worked with the Meiklejohn Program, the social justice LEAP program and we have done workshops for affinity groups,” he said. “Our center facilitates resources and information. I think we are successful in that.”
The Meiklejohn Fellows Program is housed in the Loeb Center. It provides internship funding and post-graduate planning for first-generation and low-income students on campus, Kunor said.“We offer a partnership that houses a lot of the resources and helps build a community when thinking outside of the career center,” he said.
“Almost all of our work is collaborative,” he added.
In the future, the CDSL is excited to continue “providing and building out resources and programs but also to have more dialogue about class and classism,” Kunor said.