An Upper Iowa University Student Life graduate assistant presented “Welcome to the Diversity Era” at the recent Iowa Student Personnel Association (ISPA) Conference held in Decorah, Iowa. Roberto Mardones Cruz, who also serves as an ISPA board member, acknowledged his excitement in being provided the opportunity to speak about the subject of diversity and the related responsibilities of those in higher education.
“I definitely hope that the audience left with a deeper understanding of what it means to be a minority in the United States, how minorities are feeling because of the events that have happened within the last year and a half, and what terminology to use in certain situations,” Cruz said.
As part of his presentation, Cruz discussed that in current society universities have a higher level of diversity than in the past. He explained that due to the recent violent demonstrations across the nation, there are some individuals and groups who may feel threatened to speak out. Cruz said that university professionals have a responsibility to provide the necessary tools to deal with any issues that arise on campus. In addition, it is the responsibility of educational institutions to showcase themselves as a safe haven to students, where everyone is welcome to express themselves in a peaceful manner.
“Upper Iowa University is fortunate to have Roberto represent the University as part of the Iowa Student Personnel Association,” UIU Assistant Dean of Student Life Daryl Grove said. “His commitment to the field of student affairs exemplifies the role student life professionals have in helping students through their journey of self-exploration and growth. Roberto sees student life as his job to foster and encourage these interactions, both as a member of the UIU staff and as a board member of ISPA.”
The ISPA developed from a series of meetings in 1969 between senior student affairs officers from Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa and University of Iowa. The ISPA now invites higher education professionals from across Iowa to participate in its annual fall conference. The event serves as an opportunity for networking among professionals of varying educational experience. The conference also allows participants to share ideas and practices in the world of student affairs and take these experiences back to their respective college campuses.