Diversi-TEA: Improving Graduate Staff Supervision Through Inclusive Sociocultural Engagement

Social justice, diversity, and inclusion have been buzz words thrown around in the field, many times checking off boxes that remain unmarked in reality. Institutional and departmental missions have began to include “diversity” taglines in their mission statements; they do a great job at espousing that diversity is important. However, the ways in which they enact diversity, and furthermore, inclusion is often lacking. This session will help graduate student supervisors move from just saying that diversity matters to being intentional with their practices to ensure that they are inclusive and equitable in their work.

Attendees will engage in conversations around creating culturally engaging work environments, particularly for graduate students who hold minoritized identities. We will share real life testimonies from graduate students who have been micro-aggressed by their supervisors and engage attendees in a conversation about microaggressions in supervision. Attendees will then complete a self-assessment on their competency around creating a culturally engaging campus through their supervision practices. After we provide suggestions for increased cultural competency and inclusion, attendees will create an individual supervisory plan for application in practice.

Abstract: Social justice and inclusion are one of the core competencies in student affairs, however supervisor’s lack of competence in this area does great damage to their supervisees who hold marginalized identities. With graduate student staff members being the next group of educators coming into the field, supervisors must realize how their lack of knowledge or interest in being culturally competent can contribute to their attrition. In this session, attendees will explore how they can create culturally engaging work environments by an understanding of self and others.  

Learning Outcome 1 Attendees will be able to utilize the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) Model to develop an individualized plan for each graduate supervisee.
Learning Outcome 2 Attendees will be able to identify at least two ways that supervision directly impacts graduate staff retention in student affairs and higher education.
Learning Outcome 3 Attendees will be able to identify and articulate two ways to engage in social justice education and practice, with a focus on becoming a more inclusive supervisor.


About the Presenters:

Raniesha Wassman is a graduating masters student in the Higher Education & Student Affairs program at Indiana University. She currently works as a graduate supervisor in housing and residence life with a primary focus on socio-cultural student development, training, and retention. She has presented on topics ranging from imposter syndrome and Black resident assistant collectivism for persistence. Her research interests includes Black Women’s epistemology, Black students access to higher education and Queer students of color/Androgynous presenting Black Women in higher education.


Lamesha C. Andrews (she/her/hers) is a doctoral candidate in the College Student Affairs Administration at the University of Georgia. She is currently a doctoral intern in University Housing and focuses on graduate staff development and diversity and inclusion in her role. She has presented on various equity, diversity, and inclusion topics ranging from social class, first-generation college students, christian privilege on campuses, Black women’s experiences, and exclusive professional dress policies. She is also one of the co-founders of #FirstGenDocs, an online platform that affirms the experiences, amplifies the voices, and celebrates the brilliance of first-generation doctoral students.


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