What is the cost of the Diversity Program? There’s no amount in American dollars (that I can disclose here at least) that can cover the true cost of Pitzer College’s biannual Diversity Program. We, the program’s coordinators, interns and support staff, pay for the program in time and sleep more than any monetary metric can measure, but it’s worth every last Z and waking moment spent. No matter how many we’ve experienced, the night before every program – Christmas Eve if you will – butterflies still fill our stomachs. I experienced the same sensation as a participant four years prior, but I never thought the feeling would last.
Planning commences early – almost immediately following the close of the previous program. Tasks are divided up between Diversity Interns old and new, outgoing and incoming. Sometimes we take turns swapping tasks; matching students with classes, host recruitment, off-campus activity coordination, affinity group planning, snack-buying, snack-eating, etc. Most times we focus on a few of our favorite things. For example, the class-matching torch was passed down to me, and I will hand off the flame once I graduate (hopefully). When Christmas morning finally arrives, I can’t help but shower newly arrived prospective or admitted participants with inquiries about their classes all the while not caring what their perplexed, and maybe a bit terrified, expressions reveal: these expressions might say “Why are you so excited?” or hint “She needs to chill out on the free coffee.” The latter is probably true, and the former is because we all feel like Santa Claus on Diversity Program weekend, or at the very least Oprah back in the early 2000s when she hosted her annual “Favorite Things” episodes: “You get a class!” It is truly magical when a bunch of aggregated data on Excel sheets comes to life as a fully-functioning program, but like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any annual occasion where gift-giving stakes are high, there are inevitable fails.
Due to a lack of knowledge of industrial landscapes, I had no idea what a smokestack was, so when I was given a task to set up camp on Huntington Beach, my failure to properly identify these mythical “smokestacks” resulted in 40 participants and coordinators walking more than a mile against the wind to find my bonfire. Most recently, an unprecedented change in In N’ Out’s credit card protocol resulted in fries and burgers served up “fresh” at two different locations. The Diversity Program is well-practiced, but always full of surprises. The Program staff has learned to expect the unexpected, and each straggler for the 5 am Saturday morning trip back to the airport, premature exit off the freeway, or temporarily missing participant (we always get them back), only makes our relationships with each other and the program as a whole, stronger.
Kepa Barrett ‘17, a fellow Diversity Intern eloquently describes the loving spirit of Program coordination efforts:
“The Diversity Team puts countless hours of work into making the program successful for our students. We do it in the name of love!”
Mattie Ross ‘12, Assistant Director of Admission and Head Coordinator of the Diversity Program, had this to say about our labors of love behind-the-scenes:
“There is nothing more rewarding to me than ensuring equity and access in Pitzer’s admission process…There is a lot of planning that goes into the whole event, but it’s all worth it once students are on campus. I loved watching who chose to enroll and become a future Sagehen! Chirp!”
Natalie ‘17, one of the newest additions to the Diversity Program team, is appreciative of the unique opportunity to meet future peers through the Program’s work:
This was my first time being involved with the Diversity Program and I had a really great time working with the other interns, as well as the Admission Staff…It was really amazing to have the opportunity to meet my potential future classmates. Everyone brought their own element to the program.
Sure we get paid, but money is ephemeral. We do it for the participants who we see a bit of ourselves in, to work toward an increase in the number of multi-everything, not just multi-ethnic, individuals with unique perspectives within our community, and of course, for the love of each other – our ever-expanding Diversity Program family.
Posted by Kara Powell ’15, Media Studies and Organizational Studies