St. Olaf College | News

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Update – May 20

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This is part of a series of regular updates that Vice President for Equity and Inclusion María Pabón Gautier sends to the campus community.

Dear St. Olaf Community,

Happy end of the academic year! Congratulations, seniors! These are exciting and nerve-wracking times for many of you. These are times for forging new paths and new dreams. Time to trust that you are ready to take that next step and to remember to be kind to yourself. Some of you may have a job lined up or a graduate school to get ready for, and some of you are still figuring out that next turn in your life. Regardless of where you are at, it is okay. Take time to celebrate the completion of your undergraduate career, because it is no small accomplishment. Be in the moment and reflect on your journey. Be thankful for the friends you made, the memories that will guide your future reunion conversations, and rejoice in your hard work. This is just the beginning. 

By Langston Hughes 

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

St. Olaf College to Recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a Federal Holiday!
Starting in January 2023, St. Olaf College will honor and recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday by not holding classes that day and making it a holiday for our students, staff, and faculty. This is no small accomplishment. This year the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee, led by Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion Director Martin Olague ’04, presented a proposal to the President’s Leadership Team to honor MLK Day as a federal holiday. The proposal was approved by the PLT and moved to a faculty vote since it impacts the academic calendar. Last week the faculty voted, with the majority vote in favor of making this change. Thank you to the members of the MLK Day Committee for pushing for this change. This is the best example of grassroots work — students, staff, faculty, and leadership came together to create change. Let’s keep those efforts coming! 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Symposium
Thank you to everyone who participated in the DEI Symposium, whether by presenting, leading a roundtable discussion, engaging in professional development, or by attending the different activities. We spent two days in community together, learning and growing. We launched the symposium with a home run by listening to Assistant Professor of Music Tesfa Wondemagegnehu speak truth to power, challenge our minds and spirits, and bring us home with music. Then we learned from our students, staff, faculty, and alumni about their experience, work, and passion with DEI. Finally, we recognized the efforts of several students, staff, and faculty who have become catalysts for change. Check out this St. Olaf News story for a summary of events and a great slideshow of photos from throughout the weekend taken by Steven Garcia ’20. 

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month
As we continue to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, several members of our community engaged in a hands-on workshop to build Hmong story cloths led by the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT). Hmong story cloths have been sewn for generations in Laos. These embroidered clothes are called paj ntaub or “flower clothes.” They tell stories of the community. To learn more and see photos from the event, go here.  

Reading List
It is important that we increase our knowledge about the realities of AAPI populations. Their stories, experiences, and history in this country vary. Check some of these books out. These are only a few selections and do not cover the experiences of all these communities:

  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
  • Odessa by Jonathan Hill
  • Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha
  • All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

If you want to get involved and work toward Anti-Asian Hate, I recommend this resource: Donating, Volunteering, Reporting Hate Incidents: Here’s How to Help Combat Anti-Asian Violence.

Co-Creating An Inclusive Community Initiative — Sharing Changes!
DEI Dashboards
Have you ever wondered whether St. Olaf is actually becoming more diverse?  Whether students of different identities participate at similar rates in off-campus study, co-curricular activities, learning communities, and other key experiences?  Whether and how the sense of belonging on the Hill looks different for students of different identities? Now there’s an easy way to find out! Check out the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dashboards and Additional DEI Data on the college’s DEI website. The dashboards bring a new level of transparency to St. Olaf’s DEI work and results.  

Human Resources Job Boards Focus on BIPOC Candidates
A concern raised often during the co-creating sessions was the need for more intentional BIPOC staff recruitment. This year the DEI Office and the Human Resources Office partnered to provide two new memberships that make it easier to recruit members of marginalized/underrepresented communities. Stay tuned for more changes to support your recruitment, onboarding, and retention efforts!

  • Academic Network – annual subscription available to all open positions; HR will automatically upload via St. Olaf Job Board bi-weekly.
  • – we have limited access to job postings, so only jobs with a national staff search will be posted.


Dr. María C. Pabón Gautier
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion