Office for Inclusive Community
Inclusivity is the practice of building just and equitable communities. Inclusivity requires that we continuously awaken, and work to dismantle, the ideologies, patterns, systems and practices that perpetuate oppression.
The Office for Inclusive Community (OIC) is Naropa’s home for social justice work—celebrating diverse identities and creating a culture at Naropa that is radically inclusive. Rooted in the school’s mission to “transform yourself, transform the world,” OIC supports students, staff, faculty, and the institution at large to grow their awareness of the dynamics of privilege, power and oppression, and to take social action. Recognizing the reality of our interconnectedness, we understand that none of us are free until we are all free, and we all play a role in social transformation. Thus, OIC welcomes all people to engage in this work. Offering a number of educational opportunities, community building events, and support groups, the OIC is dedicated to bringing contemplative practice into alignment with compassionate action, one person at a time.
The Office is located in the heart of the Arapahoe campus, right across from the café in Sycamore 8110. You are invited to stop by and say hello!
“Justice is what love looks like in public.”
— Cornel West
The Office for Inclusive Community’s mission is to create beloved community through critical consciousness raising and cultural transformation. Our guiding principles are clarity, rootedness, magic, ease and service, and we engage in a myriad of practices in order to uphold our principles. As we believe that cultural transformation begins in our own work environment, we disrupt capitalist assembly line values by practicing connected and embodied collaboration.
Call & Response
To build a radically inclusive community in which each member feels vital and celebrated
Provide space and opportunities for self-love, intercultural comradery and celebration.
To continuously awaken to the oppressive ideologies which perpetuate inequitable patterns, systems and practices
Radically re-educate self and community with clarity of mind, connected to heart, and befriend our collective shadow.
To actively, consciously and strategically heal the legacy of ongoing colonization in all of its forms
Live into collective liberation through deliberate and persistent acts of solidarity.
Created in response to a student-led racial justice protest held in the spring of 2015, the center exists to cultivate beloved community and is rooted in self-love, intercultural comradery and social justice engagement. In an effort to create a warm, supportive and vibrant home for community members from marginalized locations and their allies, the center is designated for anti-oppression oriented activities and critical consciousness-raising. Any group wishing to use this space must use it for such purposes and may request the space by emailing the Inclusive Community Program Coordinator directly or through the 25Live! scheduling system. The center houses many events, groups, and offerings of the Office for Inclusive Community. Located between Upaya South and the Counseling Center, this space is open during all Naropa business hours and welcomes community members to hang out, do homework, and share in the center’s mission.
Thanks to the generosity of many Naropa staff, faculty, students and alumn, The Center for Culture, Identity & Social Justice has raised enough money through our GiveCampus crowdfunding campaign to purchase a projector, screen, and window coverings. In order to access this equipment, please contact the Inclusive Community Program Coordinator or stop by the Office for Inclusive Community in Sycamore 8110.
The social justice-oriented collection of books that once comprised the Cultural Center Library has been relocated to the Allen Ginsberg Library for improved accessibility. The newly renamed Critical Consciousness Collection is located immediately to your right when you enter the library. The Center for Culture, Identity & Social Justice still houses a handful of provocative books that may be read while you are in the center without any check-out. Enjoy!
On Thursday, April 21, 2015, Decolonized Commons, the student-led movement protesting racial injustice, and specifically, institutional racism at Naropa University, pitched tents and occupied the Arapahoe Green for SIX weeks. Against a backdrop of nationwide social unrest due to the ongoing assassination of black youth, Naropa students and allied community members banded together and put their bodies and voices at risk to catalyze social and cultural transformation at their beloved institution.
Their demands were simple yet profound:
- Improve our hiring and retention of faculty and staff of color, recognizing that there are students of color on campus, and the majority of Naropa teachers and administrators are not
- Emphasize sensitivity training around issues of racism, gender, and racial inequality for Naropa teachers and administrators
- Support student-led discussions on race
- Employ a special review processes before disciplining students of color, due to the potential for racial profiling
- Have a visible multicultural center that seeks to develop cultural competency through community engagement
- Implement an Ethnic Studies curricula, which examines U.S. history and contemporary social issues from multiple perspectives to arrive at a plural and multicultural understanding of U.S. society
Historical information from the period between 2000 and 2014 is filled with deep and heartfelt efforts to bring social justice work to Naropa. Following the Decolonized Commons student protest in 2015, however, the institution has made coordinated efforts toward creating an inclusive community, one being the current iteration of the Office for Inclusive Community.
Anti-Racist Whites & Allies (ARWA) is a group open to undergraduate and graduate students, staff, alumni, and faculty facilitated by Wendy Allen and Mike Lythgoe, which focuses on the development of awareness and skills necessary to have conversations across racial differences. Participants examine their own relationship to whiteness and the impact of white privilege in community. Even though the group focuses on whiteness, it is open to all. This group serves as any ally group to COCA and meets on the Paramita campus in Kshanti Wednesdays 1:30-2:50pm. Contacts: Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mike at email@example.com
Community of Color & Allies (COCA) is a group open to undergraduate and graduate students, staff, alumni, and faculty facilitated by Carla Sherrell, which focuses on the development of skills necessary to have conversations across racial differences. Participants examine their own relationship to race and the impact of systemic racism in community. Participants are welcome whenever they can attend. COCA meets on the Paramita campus in Jim Spearly Wednesdays 1:30-2:50pm. Contact: Jun Akiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org
Accessibility Advocacy & Support Group meets in the Center for Culture, Identity & Social Justice to serve as an open, relaxed environment to connect, share experiences, promote awareness, and education for disability-related issues at Naropa University. Even though the group focuses on disability-related issues, it is open to all. For more information, contact Moises Hinojosa at email@example.com
International Community is a monthly group which explores the international student, staff, faculty and alumni experience at Naropa and in the US. Through examination of their developing international identities and sharing of their day-to-day experiences living abroad, participants focus on creating a thriving community. The group usually meets on a weekend and participants attend when they can. It is open to the entire Naropa community but centers on the student experience. Contact: Ugur Kocataskin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Queer Naropa! is a group open to undergraduate and graduate students, staff, faculty and alumni who are you interested in cultivating a strong queer community at Naropa. The group is dedicated to having a queer positive environment in which to discuss what is true for you and your identities/lived experiences. Participants are welcome whenever they can attend. This group meets in the Center for Culture, Identity & Social Justice. Contact: Ethan Jackson at email@example.com
Students of Color & Allies (SOCA) is a group which focuses on creating a supportive space of rest and renewal for students of color, hosted by rotating members of the diversity team. The group is open to undergraduate and graduate students, staff, alumni, and faculty but centers on the student experience. This group meets in the Center for Culture, Identity & Social Justice Mondays 12pm to 1pm. Contact: Faridah Andiaye at firstname.lastname@example.org
Spirit of the Warrior Veteran & Ally Group is a student-centered group made up of military veterans and allies. This is a space of connection and comradeship- your voice (Spirit) matters, and this group exists to celebrate that. Contact: Jenna Jennings at email@example.com
Witnessing Whiteness is a structured group open to undergraduate and graduate students, staff, alumni and faculty that reads and studies Witnessing Whiteness: The Need ToTalk About Race & How to Do It by Shelly Tochluk. This group, not currently being offered, requires a semester-long commitment and focuses on building the capacity to understand the significance of whiteness, its impact in our lives and communities, and beginning to develop anti-racist practices. Even though the group focuses on whiteness, it is open to all. For more information, contact Jaime Duggan at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about group locations and times, email email@example.com.
Naropa University welcomes participants with disabilities. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request accommodations needed to participate fully in any of these groups.
Please contact Jaime Duggan at email@example.com for the most up-to-date information about these events or to inquire about accessibility and disability accommodations needed to participate fully in any or all of these events.
In honor of Indigenous People’s Day, Naropa University welcomed activist-artist Gregg Deal as an honored guest for our third annual Community Week. Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe) is a provocative contemporary artist who challenges Western perceptions of Indigenous people, touching on issues of race, history, and stereotypes. Through his work—paintings, murals work, performance art, filmmaking, and spoken word—Deal critically examines issues and tells stories of decolonization and appropriation that affect Indian country. Deal’s activism exists in his art, as well as his participation in political movements. He has been heavily involved with the media activist movement #changethename, posting a video to Vimeo inviting Indigenous people’s commentary on the sports mascots issue in response to mainstream media’s attempted erasure of Indigenous voices. Most recently, a photograph of Deal was included in the December 2018 National Geographic Society Magazine article “Native Americans are Recasting Views of Indigenous Life.” Deal has lectured widely at prominent educational institutions and museums, including the Denver Art Museum, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. His television appearances include PBS’s The Art District, The Daily Show, and Totally Biased with Kamau Bell.
You can find more information about Gregg at http://greggdeal.com/
On Monday, October 14, 2019, Gregg Deal graced our Arapahoe campus with one of his murals, RISE. One intention in commissioning Gregg Deal to bestow this image upon our campus is to make a lasting statement that reflects Naropa’s ethical responsibility to support indigenous justice.
Naropa University acknowledges that its campuses sit on the land of the Arapahoe and Ute tribes. We recognize that as an institution of higher education we have a responsibility to develop an awareness of indigenous issues, practices that support indigenous peoples, and partnerships that serve indigenous communities.
It is our hope the mural, albeit just a beginning, will serve as a physical reminder of our responsibility. When community members have met in the past, the following suggestions have emerged:
- The formation of a group to lead an exploration of Indigenization at Naropa University
- A review of what actions Naropa University, faculty and other American academic institutions are taking in this area
- Inclusion on course syllabi and at the outset of all significant Naropa University meetings, ceremonies and gatherings to acknowledge that this University is located on Indigenous land
- Revamping course content and delivery where relevant to address colonization and decolonization
- Collaboration with local groups working in this area such as Right Relationship Boulder (Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples), University of Colorado and other academic institutions
If you are interested in being involved in indigenous justice at Naropa, please contact Amanda Aguilera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Naropa is committed to being a diverse and inclusive community. In working to foster this, we feel it’s important that all of our community members begin to work toward understanding and acknowledging the dynamics of privilege, bias and oppression. Please take some time to explore the brief learning modules below.
These guidelines turn the Four-I’s of Oppression (Internalized, Interpersonal, Institutional, Ideological) into a path to collective liberation. They are not meant to be prescriptive or obligatory, but rather are intended to offer some assistance in creating a positive cultural shift and a truly inclusive community.
“If you have come to help me, then you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” –Lila Watson
- Invest in noticing the ideas we hold inside about ourselves, our worthiness, our intelligence, our goodness, whether we feel we have a right to speak and take up space and people’s time or tend to defer to others and why. What beliefs and assumptions about the ways we need to look or conduct ourselves have we internalized? What are we denying within?
- Commit to investigating our own social locations and the ideas we hold about ourselves in relation to those positions, to engaging (rather than avoiding) areas in which we have privilege and are more likely to have influence. Acknowledge that the lens through which we perceive a situation is never neutral, and that our own social locations, and lived experiences, may hinder our ability to perceive various perspectives.
- Notice any tendency at all to be dismissive of anyone’s perspective or experience. Recognize we are deeply socialized to dismiss non-dominant perspectives, and that it usually requires acute mindfulness to notice when we do it and courage to do things differently.
- Commit to reaching out to and connecting with more members of the community- ANYONE. We all have complex identities and contribute to the diversity of Naropa. Reach out across divisions of staff, faculty, administrator, student and across campuses and programs.
- Read about microaggressions and familiarize yourself with common examples. Pay attention to interactions you witness and engage in that potentially reinforce an oppressive dynamic or assumption. Practice interrupting everyday oppression in situations in the office, classroom, at businesses, social gatherings and events, as well as at home.
- Take time to acknowledge and greet (with a smile or perhaps a hug) your colleagues even if they arrive late. Affirm one another’s humanity by asking folks how they’re doing before diving into work. Take time to do personal check-in’s. Actively listen and practice empathy. Share something about yourself. Allow yourself and others to express emotions that are present without judgment.
- Practice naming your social locations at the beginning of meetings, presentations, courses, articles, etc. Acknowledge that these identities matter, and that our own perspectives are shaped by them, and are not necessarily shared by people from different locations.
- Hold yourself and each other accountable: Listen closely and with an open mind-heart to actually hear the impact that our words, behavior or action has had on someone else. Refrain from defending yourself. Acknowledge the impact, no matter your intention. Make every effort to repair harm done or heal any rupture that has occurred. Recognize that feedback, even and especially in the form of criticism, is a gift and opportunity to be challenged enough to catalyze growth.
- Sacrifice one project to make time to join a working group or commit to attending and participating in one weekly diversity event. Check in with folks already doing this work and lend support and collaboration to initiatives already happening.
- If you are an instructor, interrogate your own course materials and pedagogy for signs of ethnocentrism, ableism, patriarchal assumptions, audism, heteronormativity, gender binary thinking, erasure of certain groups, and cultural appropriation. Revise as needed.
- Create a Brave Space. Demonstrate warriorship and the courage required to stand up against the status quo, to have unpopular views, and to break silence in pursuit of positive cultural transformation. Be willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations and make mistakes with one another, rather than avoid difficult topics.
- Commit to learning the history of how various ideas about superiority in race, gender, ability, citizenship, culture, religion and sexuality have been established and propagated. What ideologies of superiority and inferiority do you see embedded into policies and practices at Naropa? Into classroom norms? Into curriculums? Into the demographics of the administration, staff and faculty? Into the laws that we are required to abide?
- Engage in to critical consciousness-raising. Commit to reading books and articles, watching films, and listening to interviews and narratives that confront issues of racism, patriarchy, transphobia, able-ism, heteronormativity, immigration injustice, and neo-colonialism.