Prepared by members of the Diversity Dialogue Planning Committee: Sara Anderson, Cynthia Chen, Lauren Fontana, Regina Kilkenny, and Nelia Viveiros, January 21, 2020.

One of CU Denver’s strategic priorities is to create a more cohesive, collaborative, and inclusive culture – ensuring that all who learn, teach, research, and work here feel that they belong.  This is foundational to our joint success.

To that end, CU Denver has embarked on a series of Diversity Dialogues, the first of which was held on November 20, 2019.  Diversity Dialogues are designed to help normalize conversations about identity, culture, and other current issues at CU Denver.  Nearly 100 faculty, staff, and students attended the inaugural session to explore the challenges members of our LGBTQ+ community face.

The following themes emerged from this first Dialogue.  These topics will be explored more deeply as we work to develop a comprehensive plan to create a culture of inclusion:

  • Work to change our systems to permit preferred names or pronouns
  • Explore adequacy of gender-neutral restrooms across campus
  • Provide specific resources and more substantial support systems for the LGBTQ+ community
  • Create training to understand LGBTQ+ issues and address micro-aggressions and harms
  • Consider intersectionality in supporting individuals with multiple identities
  • Shift our systems, policies and support services to be proactive and not reactive
  • Close the gap in our knowledge and language relative to LGBTQ+ issues
  • Create a culture of openness and acceptance to talk about and listen when we are not understood
Here are the immediate steps CU Denver is taking as an outcome of this session:
  • Campus leadership will receive training on gender diversity and transgender inclusion;
  • Explore a training curriculum for the classroom, for new faculty and staff orientations and for all administrators, faculty, staff and students;
  • Explore system adaptations for students, faculty, and staff to be listed by their preferred (in addition to their legal) names, building on the progress made in enabling students to identify their pronouns and preferred name in the student information system;
  • Host book discussions about Trans* in College by Z Nicolazzo;
  • Maintain and circulate an updated list of gender-inclusive restrooms. You can find a map and list here from the Office of Equity of our gender-neutral bathrooms in Auraria and CU Denver buildings.

Here is a list of campus resources for community members who need additional support or who wish to learn more about LGBTQ+ issues:

Thank you to the following who helped make the first Dialogue in the series a reality:

Table facilitators who assisted with and supported open conversation.

  • Tiffany Baker-Strothkamp
  • Jody Barker
  • Amanda Beyer-Purvis
  • Melody Brown
  • Mia Fischer
  • Marjorie Levine-Clark
  • Katherine Mohrman
  • Teresa Ralicki
  • Karissa Stolen
  • Shea Swauger
  • Deans and cabinet members who participated
  • Most importantly, members of our LGTBQ+ community who demonstrated the courage to step forward in this space and be vulnerable

The goal is to hold a Diversity Dialogue each semester. Each dialogue will provide a deeper dive on a different issue, identity, or theme related to diversity and inclusion.  All members of the CU Denver community are invited to attend.  

Please mark your calendar for the next session: Please stay tuned for our next Diversity Dialogue, coming Spring 2020, focused on issues related to race and ethnicity.