Diversity group seeking applicants

Story by Emily Gresbrink


Peer Diversity Educators, a student-run organization known for presenting diversity workshops to residence halls and classrooms, is hiring for Spring 2011.

“We develop hands-on programs that touch on subjects related to diversity and social justice,” said Program Coordinator Tracie Anderson, a junior. “We help people develop a tolerance for diversity as well as opening minds up.”

PDE has been around since 2001 and began as a subcategory of Residence Hall Association, but the organization has since branched into its own program operating within the broad span of Housing and Residence Life, Anderson said.

“The response (to the programs we hold) has been amazing,” senior Daven Raj said.

The programs, constructed entirely by PDE students, touch on subjects affecting the campus climate, community and larger scale issues as well. Of the broad range presented, some programs include topics on gender issues, LGBTQ discussions and race/ethnicity discrimination.

Within the large PDE group lie two subcommittees – one for program development and the other for marketing, Raj said. The program development section reviews and updates available programs. It also looks into current issues on campus to see what can be included in existing programs. The other section, marketing, works to advertise the programs as well as community outreach.

Raj and Anderson said that both joined PDE based on the encouragement of friends and advisors involved in the program.

“Being a PDE helped me grow socially and educationally,” Anderson said. “It’s an organization that forces you to mature. It has completely changed my mindset … it changed how I looked at school, sports, everything.”

Applicants are asked to fill out an application that can be found at the PDE website (www.uwec.edu/housing/Organizations/PDE) and return it to the Think Tank (located in Towers South) by Nov. 23. Students do not need to live on campus in order to be a member of PDE.

“If you like to be surrounded by motivated and passionate people and have a passion for diversity issues, raising awareness (about these issues) and seeing changes on campus, then PDEs would be perfect,” Raj said.

Students from all backgrounds and majors are encouraged to apply, with members of the organization coming from all over the university, including majors in accounting, political science, nursing, and biology, Anderson said.

A PDE position is paid (approximately $600 per semester) with minimal travel required and a time commitment starting at four to five hours per week. Besides training before spring semester begins, there are two mandatory meetings per week. The time commitment from there varies, as PDE volunteer for which programs they wish to present, Raj and Anderson said.

“Our mission is to promote awareness, acceptance, inclusivity and a better campus climate,” Anderson said. “We are educating peers on diversity issues. It’s not a professor or a lecture. It’s someone who has gone through the same things you have.”