Georgetown’s Office of Student Equity & Inclusion (OSEI) has opened a new space on the lower level of New South, creating a central hub for the university’s integrative approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through OSEI, the university brings together several undergraduate programs that focus on first-generation students and students from historically underrepresented communities: the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access (CMEA), the Community Scholars Program (CSP), the Disability Cultural Center (DCC), the LGBTQ Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.
OSEI’s offices and centers were previously located in the Leavey Center. The move reflects Georgetown’s commitment to supporting the intersectional work of these programs and promoting an inclusive campus.
“Community in diversity is one of our pillars as a Jesuit institution,” says Adanna J. Johnson, who leads OSEI as the associate vice president for student equity and inclusion. “This is one of the best examples of community in diversity at Georgetown, because all of our centers that support identity-based work are here to provide support for our students, to engage them in co-curricular work, to allow space for them to truly be themselves, and to sigh and relax and engage with one another.”
Space for fostering community
Cura personalis, or care for the whole person, is at heart of the design for the new space, which includes soundproof wellness spaces for students scheduling individual counseling sessions with staff from Counseling and Psychiatric Services, Health Education Services, and Campus Ministry. Students also will have access to conference rooms, lounges for studying and socializing, and a multipurpose room that can be adapted for small and large groups.
“The fact that we’re finally getting all these different underrepresented groups dedicated space that’s nice, renovated, and well-done, I think that’s really important,” says Corey Madison (C’27), a first-year student involved with the CSP and CMEA.
Within the new space is a state-of-the-art sensory room, a first for any college in the Washington, DC, area. The space also features flooring conducive to mobility devices, chairs for different body types, assistive listening technology, and distinct signage to ensure the facilities are accessible for all students.
“We wanted this space to be as inclusive and accessible as possible,” says Amy Kenny, director of the Disability Cultural Center (DCC), which celebrates disability culture; seeks to foster a culture of access; and provides programming for disabled students, faculty, staff, allies and those interested in learning about disability. Kenny, along with students involved with the DCC, helped inform some of the accessible design choices in the new space. “Everything from the color choice to the fixed and flexible furniture to the design of the braille and tactile signage has been built with accessibility in mind,” Kenny explains.
Having the individual centers in proximity to each other encourages collaboration among the offices. “To be next door to my colleagues and be in community and see our students interacting together is really the genesis of understanding intersectionality and being in this work together,” says Riley Jelenick, associate director of the LGBTQ Resource Center.
OSEI’s new home will help propel CMEA’s work, says Charlene Brown-McKenzie, the program’s director. “We are thrilled to be embarking on programming that expands access to Georgetown…We’re seeing Georgetown growing as it thinks about inclusion and belonging.”
“Our work in OSEI allows us to address students as whole people,” says Annie Selak, director of the Women’s Center. “No one comes in and says, ‘I’m having a gender-only issue, or let me take off this identity and just put this identity on.’ This intersectional approach allows us to regard students as who they are in their wholeness.”
Read more about OSEI’s work and new space. >