Another yearend research showcase for members of numerous student groups was the “Researching Between the Lines” symposium sponsored by the Luskin School’s Diversity, Differences and Disparities Initiative (D3), which supports student-led diversity programming and events.
The student-led event focused on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. It included reports from students who had traveled to Sacramento to participate in Lobby Days through D3’s Diversity Development Grants, as well as work by other UCLA Luskin students related to issues such as tenants’ rights, student engagement with racial issues, and community outreach and inclusion.
Among the student groups represented were the Luskin Black Caucus, Planners of Color for Social Equity (PCSE), Latinx Caucus, Policy Professionals for Diversity & Equity (PPDE), a social welfare research team, and a number of other affiliated groups. And a panel discussion focused on how D3 helped enable them to carry out their research and activities.
“A lot of our events came to fruition through the year, so that’s nice to have, and [it’s] also a cultural awareness organization,” said graduating MSW Ben Nguyen, who represented UCLA Luskin’s Asian Pacific Islander Causus (API). “That’s something that’s hard to operationalize, so D3 is a valuable resource to tap into.”
Javier Rodriguez MSW ’18 gave a presentation on his work with Underground Scholars at UCLA and efforts to bring artists and vendors from around Los Angeles to campus. Rodriguez, who grew up in Watts, said he saw a “disconnect between culture and the university” so he and more than a dozen students spent months organizing an inclusive campuswide event.
“They were very excited to be part of this community at UCLA, a place where they don’t really get the opportunity to display their work,” Rodriguez said of participants.
When choosing schools, the emphasis on research was important to event co-organizer Estefanía Zavala MPP ’18. “And as a student who is already interested in diversity, it was really important to me that the school was doing things like that,” she said. Zavala was a program manager in 2017-18 for D3 and also a member PPDE, which presented at the conference. She wanted an event that highlighted and celebrated the work of UCLA Luskin students.
“I think a lot of the time the work students do around diversity isn’t really recognized, and it’s really important to build morale and community around student organizations,” Zavala said. “I hope that people will see this story and see the work students do on campus and realize that they can do it if they go here.”