Shalin Berman

4th Year Undergraduate Student, Art & Design BFA

Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

Being your best DEI self: Think of a time when you were at your best at advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. What happened? Who was there? Why did you feel at your best?

An instance where I felt like I was doing my best at advancing DEI was when I helped organize a workshop with my MLC about respecting peoples’ pronouns. I saw a need in my community where there were students who used non-binary pronouns and/or multiple sets of pronouns and I wanted these students to feel seen, heard, and respected within the community. I reached out to the DPEs within the dorm as well as to the MLC Director to make this happen. The workshop was attended by about 50 students in addition to myself, the DPEs, and the program director. As a non-binary person, I am too familiar with being disrespected on campus with regards to my pronouns; and I wanted to do what I could to advocate for other gender non-conforming individuals. It’s important for people to learn about using pronouns properly, as they will likely encounter gender non-conforming people in their workplace/in public in the future.

Wishes for the future: How would you imagine your environment needing to be for you to feel that you don’t have to do DEI work anymore?

Unfortunately, I believe a lot would have to change for me to not have to do DEI work anymore. In a general sense, I think it all boils down to just letting people exist without judging or making assumptions about them. A step towards this ideal is people learning how to be more empathetic and understanding of people who hold identities different from you.

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the MLK Spirit Awards?

Being a recipient of this award, bearing Martin Luther King Jr.’s name, is a huge honor. This validates the work I do as an artist and designer, as well as the work I do as a member of ResStaff. Post-grad, I aim to continue working in DEI. I hope that through my work I can continue to bring attention to issues that affect my communities, as well as help out other communities in need however I can.