ASuop Diversity, Equity and Inclusion director emphasizes inclusive leadership
“There must be intentional actions performed more than once. It’s is not enough to say we are an inclusive school or that you support everyone."
Zaunama'at Nuru-Bates ’22 has ambitious goals as the first director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Associated Students of the University of the Pacific (ASuop).
Among those objectives is a commitment to inclusive leadership, which they said is crucial to efforts to foster a welcoming and effective student government.
There must be intentional actions performed more than once. It’s is not enough to say we are an inclusive school or that you support everyone,” the junior sociology major said. “You have to have intent and do that every time. That is the key for creating an inclusive environment.
Nuru-Bates shared those thoughts and more during the first session of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dialogue: Cultivating Transformative Leaders series on Aug. 27. They was joined on the panel by Grant Kirkpatrick ’19, former ASuop president.
As a leader, you need to prioritize making people feel respected and valued,” said Kirkpatrick, who is working in the Stockton city manager's office through a Lead for America fellowship. “You need to be aware of how the decisions you make impact people. If you want to be an effective leader, you must be an inclusive leader.
The series, which will continue through mid-November, is a partnership between the University Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (UCDEI) and President Christopher Callahan, who was one of the approximately 80 attendees for the virtual session.
Moderator Marshea Pratt, assistant director of alumni clubs and regional programs and UCDEI co-chair, shared a definition of inclusive leadership that set the tone for the gathering. It read, in part, “Inclusive leadership is an intentional relationship of influence the purpose of which is to cause people to consistently experience a feeling of respect, value, safety, trust and a sense of belonging, resulting in them being able to be their best selves and do their best work.
Nuru-Bates said the “intentional” aspect of that definition is crucial, and they applies that approach to work with ASuop, Brave Black Voices, the Pride Resource Center and other efforts. The leadership role is especially important and challenging with students off campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they said.
It has been really hard. I am sure it has been a difficult transition for us all,” Nuru-Bates said. “But at ASuop, we have been using social media to keep engaged. Connecting with students on social media has been very meaningful in ways that are more impactful than being involved in person. It can be a little awkward or intimidating at first, and social media helps in that regard.
Nuru-Bates emphasized the importance of “taking care of yourself” while combining school work with efforts to foster inclusive leadership.
I am definitely one to put 100% of myself into my work and school,” they said. “I am realizing that behavior can be pretty problematic. If you don’t feel energized, you cannot expect to perform at 100%. It is so, so, so important to set boundaries with yourself. Relax, unwind and turn off all of your devices.
If you are not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of other people.
The DEI Dialogues series is Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. It will include a variety of discussion topics on social justice, marginalized communities and many aspects of DEI work.