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Residence Life wins social justice education awards

2:45 p.m., Feb. 7, 2006--UD's Office of Residence Life recently has been honored with two awards for its programming and outreach efforts to promote social justice and cultural sensitivity on campus from the American College Personnel Association's (ACPA) Commission for Social Justice Educators (CSJE).

The Office of Residence Life received a general award, the 2006 CSJE Commitment to Social Justice Education Award, for its overall commitment to cultural diversity; and a specific award, the 2006 CSJE Innovative Response Award, for the Stop Hate March in November.

“Promoting social justice has been at the center of the mission of the Office of Residence Life for many years,” Cynthia Cummings, associate vice president of campus life, said. “The number and quality of the department's initiatives in the areas of diversity, multiculturalism and the eradication of oppression are remarkable. I am proud of the staff's work and pleased that it is receiving national recognition.”

Kathleen Kerr, director of residence life, said that the residence halls provide an excellent venue in which to initiate the programs and educate students about civic responsibility.

“Understanding issues of diversity, working to create inclusive living environments and being dedicated to the elimination of oppression should be hallmarks of any good citizen,” Kerr said. “It's great to have our efforts in these areas recognized.”

Michele Kane, assistant director of residence life, said that the two awards from the ACPA not only honor the work of residence life professionals, but also affirm the importance of putting social justice issues at the front and center of students' consciousness.

“Diversity is an important component here at the University,” Kane said, “and emphasis is put on having a diverse student body and a diverse curriculum. Tolerance, cultural awareness and social justice issues are given prominence and intertwined throughout academics and social life on campus, which contributes to our overall success--and the awards affirm that commitment and success.”

Kane, who helped compile the materials for the ACPA awards application, said that getting recognized with such prestigious honors also spurs the mission of social justice on to greater heights.

“In the past, UD has received other awards in other areas from the ACPA, but when we found out that the [social justice] awards existed, we felt we stood out as naturals for applying,” she said. “We feel very strongly about our programming, and when we received the awards, it was important to us professionally, because we felt it affirmed our zero tolerance policy on campus, and promoted that message to a wider audience.”

Several delegates from the Office of Residence Life, along with a few chosen graduate students, will attend the ACPA convention in Indianapolis to be officially honored at an awards ceremony set for Sunday, March 19.

“A lot of work and collaboration from many units across campus goes into our programming,” Kane said, “and we're really excited to see that this hard work is being recognized. Although Residence Life doesn't offer its programs to get awards, I think everyone on campus does small things every day that matter in the area of social justice, and the affirmation from the ACPA is important to UD because it strengthens the message that that work is vital.”

Article by Becca Hutchinson
Photos by Kevin Quinlan

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