The University of Utah’s Center for Ethnic Student Affairs (CESA) has introduced a new name: the Center for Equity and Student Belonging (CESB). Members of the U’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion team discuss the change and what it means for students below.
This story was originally published on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion blog.
Pamela Bishop: Hello everyone, I’m Pamela Bishop (she/her) and I’m the director of marketing and communications for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI).
Today, I’m here to talk about some changes that are occurring within Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and I have two special guests with me. We have Tricia Sugiyama (she/her), who is the director of the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs, and we also have Dan Cairo (he/him/el) who is the special assistant to the vice president for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion responsible for strategy and operations.
And they’re going to talk a little about what’s going on at EDI.
Tricia, I understand that there are a lot of changes happening in CESA. Can you tell me a little bit about what’s happening?
Tricia Sugiyama: Oh Pamela, thank you. I’m so happy you asked. So in addition to our team growing, we are excited to introduce new programming that will provide support to students and critical areas such as mental health and student leadership, but in addition to this, we are very excited to announce a new look and name for our center which will be the Center for Equity and Student Belonging.
Pamela Bishop: Wow, that’s awesome! So, CESA is changing over to the Center for Equity and Student Belonging. That sounds like the acronym is CESB. Was that on purpose?
Tricia Sugiyama: It was! It was because we definitely wanted to honor what we were and look at the future of what we’re becoming.
Pamela Bishop: Awesome. So what prompted this change from CESA to CESB, as we’re gonna call it?
Tricia Sugiyama: As the University of Utah continues to grow and change, so does our office. So this fall, CESA will experience a glow-up. Moving from the Minority Center of the 1960s to the 1970s era of the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs, we now look to the future as we align with the new Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion division and focus on serving the increasingly diverse student population at the U by becoming the Center for Equity and Student Belonging.
Pamela Bishop: So, Dan, tell us. What do you think this means for students?
Daniel K. Cairo: Thank you. I’m glad that you asked that because all the work that we’re doing really is for students, right?
People who were familiar with CESA, you were lucky if you found out who the center was, then you got connected with them, but a lot of our students who are continuing to come to the U, don’t know that this space exists.
So what it means for students…it means that before the first day of school, our goal is to make sure that they know who we are. They know how CESB is a place where they can build community, where they can gain support, where they can really nurture both their academic skills and their social skills and they can create belonging here on campus.
But it’s not just that, right? It’s not just coming and staying connected with CESB. It’s about how our center, our communities and our partnerships really support them in their journey throughout the institution. If you have students who are first-gen, new to the state, or whatever their identities may be, they have a network of support at CESB—and not just there, but a network of support that allows them to move through campus.
If engineering sounds scary, hey, it doesn’t have to be! We’re actually here to support you and be there with you and also nurture your own development. If art sounds scary, hey, we have great friends, in the College of Fine Arts that you can connect with.
So what it means is it’s a web of support that allows students to thrive and to achieve academic excellence on campus.
Pamela Bishop: That’s awesome. I really am excited to hear about all the changes that are occurring. It really seems like we are evolving, like you said Tricia, trying to grow up and be this new-century type of CESA and CESB, and I’m just excited to hear all this! So, how can people learn more about the new CESB?
Tricia Sugiyama: We’d love this.
So this fall, we will be inviting you all to join us for an open house and to celebrate our new name and our new look. In addition, we’ll be unveiling a new webpage that can be found at diversity.utah.edu, and as always we invite you to stop by our space. Come and meet our new staff, meet our new design, and then also just come and see us! We’re in the Union building on the main level across from ASUU, so stop by because we really want to see you in our space.
Pamela Bishop: Well, thank you so much, Tricia and Dan. This has really been great, and I know students are going to be excited to see what’s happening at the new Center for Equity and Student Belonging. Thank you.