Diversity award given to Augie

Lan Anh (Rosie) Ong

For the second year in a row, Augustana is named as a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award recipient in the week of Sept. 8. 
Last year, for the first time, Augustana College was presented the HEED Award. Michael Rogers, the director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (OSID), noted that this is an important award for Augustana to receive and indicates that the college is on the right path towards a more diverse and inclusive campus community. 
In an email sent out to campus, the Office of the President said, “Among 90 institutions earning the award this year, Augustana was one of more than 300 plus to apply, Augustana is one of the smallest colleges to win; winners are mostly large universities and Augustana is one of only four colleges in Illinois earned the award this year.”
This national recognition was announced by the Office of the President in an email to campus on Sept. 9. 
In the email, the HEED Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is described as a measure of “the institution’s level of achievement and intensity of commitment to broadening diversity and inclusion on campus through initiatives, programs and outreach; student recruitment, retention, and completion; and hiring practices for faculty and staff.”
To win this year’s award, Augustana had put a lot of effort into making the campus a diverse and inclusive place for students, faculty members and staff. 
To exemplify these attempts, Dr. Monica Smith, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, said that Augustana winning the HEED Award two years in a row says a lot about what we are doing.
Specifically, she explained, “Augustana has introduced inclusive services such as Passport to Success and a new preferred name policy. These services might help diversify and include all the students, faculty and staff on campus.”
Junior Caleb Minnis, multicultural programming board senator and diversity and inclusion committee chair in Student Government Association, expressed his happiness and excitement to hear that Augustana won the HEED Award two years in a row. 
“Augustana seems to be checking the right boxes in order to receive this award,” Minnis said. “In this difficult time, it’s really important we continue to work towards the award because diversity is such an ever-changing and important thing we have to focus on. We make sure that we uphold the responsibilities of becoming a diverse school for students to attend.” 
However, some students have expressed doubtful opinions about the level of diversity and inclusion on campus. Fatima Dominguez, president of Latinx Unidos, said, “I personally don’t believe we deserved this award just yet, and I would’ve loved to see the strategic plan work first.”
This year, Augustana receiving the HEED Award has partially dispelled these doubts about the college’s efforts in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
Ashley Allen, the interim director of student inclusion and diversity, said, “Augustana does have some improvements to make, but that is how we continue to be better, what we could do better than last year.” 
Allen believes that the college will always work for a better campus environment. “Winning this award two years in a row shows that we will not stop making changes, and that we continue to do things to improve our campus in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Allen said.
Looking ahead to what Augustana could do to win this award three years in a row, Allen said, “Thinking creatively, thinking outside the box and being open to new ideas. If we decide to earn this award next year, we could not do the same as last year.”