Intergroup Relations

December 2016

As the Student Engagement Team, Katie and Gloriela work to unite all those involved with IGR in various capacities. We partner with CommonGround for Open dialogues, during which anyone on campus can come to engage in important conversation about a specific social justice-related topic that is particularly relevant on campus during that time. Additionally, we collaborated with Spectrum Center for an Open Dialogue on Perceptions and Assumptions of Sexuality. The SET also has ongoing projects that aim to cultivate a deeper sense of community across IGR, including the creation of the photo wall, which displays photographs of each student and staff member involved with IGR on the front wall of the office, and is responsible for organizing IGR study hours before final exams. We are always looking for new and innovative ideas to enhance our community, so feel free to contact us at any time with your thoughts!

My name is Katie Gamalski and I am a senior majoring in Women’s Studies with a minor in Community Action and Social Change. I was late to the IGR party, and did not take a dialogue until fall semester junior year. I was placed in the White Racial Identity dialogue (WRID), which proved to be one of the most influential experiences that I have had at the university. I have since stayed involved with the department each semester, which has included facilitator training, facilitation of the religion dialogue, and now working on the student engagement team! In addition to doing a ton of learning about social justice topics, this department has allowed me to engage in critical self-reflection on my own social identities and intersectionality in order to better myself as a social justice advocate and ally. My first experience, the WRID dialogue, gave me time and space to specifically think about my own whiteness, which was not something that I had engaged with much. Skills that I have carried out of IGR include developing self-awareness about my own social identities and its relationship to community action and social change work, as well as developing skills and learning opportunities to facilitate diversity learning to support community action and social change efforts.

Since I myself found out about IGR late into my undergraduate career, I am committed to reaching out to underclassmen who are unaware of the program. Furthermore, I hope that through the student engagement team we are able to further develop IGR’s reach across a wide array of students. Many students who are already interested in social justice advocacy find their way to the program, but I hope to also bring in students who have not been exposed to these essential concepts and values yet. I am also passionate about uniting individuals from across the different aspects of IGR and building a sense of community among student activists.

My name is Gloriela Iguina-Colón and I am a Junior studying Public Policy and minoring in Environmental Science.  My freshman year I took an Intergroup Dialogue focusing on Race and Ethnicity. It was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. By far the most diverse classroom I had been part of at Michigan, I saw this class as a haven for all the issues I knew mattered to me but had never gotten a chance to explore. This lead me to want to get involved with IGR more. When I heard about the Student Engagement Team I was thrilled. I am so honored to be creating a greater sense of community this wonderfully diverse group of thoughtful and engaging people. Katie and I will work hard to create events and dialogues that truly promote the inquisitive and inclusive spirit of IGR.

My life has been a continuous balancing act between cultures and people of differing values. As a Puerto Rican girl growing up in New York City, I have had the advantage of meeting people from all over the world. The challenge was keeping my identity intact while also allowing myself to be open to new ideas and cultural practices, Thus, changing and growing as a result of this myriad of these cultural encounters. Although they were all different in some way, these experiences taught me a lifelong lesson that has become central to who I am. And now increasingly IGR has become part of my life on campus and the person I want to be. I am thrilled to be working as part of the SET and look forward to meeting more of the extraordinary people who are part of the IGR family and welcome those who are not to join us. I have greatly benefitted from being surrounded by an enriching diversity and I will strive to foster more interaction and understanding amongst people of different racial backgrounds. We see a lack of this on campus and I think we would all benefit from learning from each other. Please feel free to contact either me or Katie and give us suggestions for what you want to see at IGR!

Our next event is “Recharge: An Evening of Self-Compassionate Activism,” which is a collaboration between IGR and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). With the increased oppression, tension, and ignorance many individuals have been experiencing on campus, many students have been left feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with the prospect of social change. For this event, we encourage students to come together as we relax, reflect, and learn sustainable self-care strategies. We hope to build a community of activists to empower and inspire each other! This will be a night of self-care, dialogue and community-building activities featuring: an interactive workshop focusing on our experiences as student activists, creating a community vision board, meditation, and much more! This event is taking place on Thursday December 8th, 5-8pm in the IGR office. Our last event of the semester will be finals study hours! Come join us at IGR for open space to study, fun friends to hang out with, and lots of coffee and food! There will space designated for quiet study and some for group work/chatting. Free printing, comfy couches, and Pizza House cheezy bread await! Hope to see you there on Wednesday December 14th, 3-11pm!