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Friday, July 1, 2022

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SDSU BAYANIHAN, Filipino American Faculty and Staff Association SDSU BAYANIHAN, Filipino American Faculty and Staff Association
 


Employee Resource Groups Build Community for Faculty, Staff

The initiative, launched in spring 2019, is designed to build an inclusive environment for SDSU employees.
By Ryan Schuler
 

“It also recognizes the need that faculty and staff have to have connectedness and our diversities celebrated just like our students do.”

With a student population of more than 33,000, it can sometimes be difficult for students to find a small community to call their own on a large campus. But with the abundance of student organizations at San Diego State University, students have many opportunities to get involved and make lifelong friends.

This same predicament can apply to staff and faculty as well – it can be difficult to connect and develop relationships with colleagues outside of their department or college. 

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) aim to bridge that gap.

Launched in spring 2019, the ERGs are designed to build an inclusive environment for SDSU employees, open to all but with particular attention to employees from historically underrepresented and underserved backgrounds. 

All ERGs are employee-founded, designed, and managed – for employees, by employees. The ERGs are officially recognized by the university, which provides structural support and partial funding. ERG-sponsored functions can range from structured meetings to open discussions to cultural events.

“They really are about strengthening the environment in terms of creating community and climate for employees of SDSU,” said Emilio Ulloa, chair of campus climate who oversees the initiative.

Since the launch, the number of ERGs has grown from nine to 13, with the opportunity for faculty and staff to join existing ERGs or propose new ones.

“As faculty and staff of the university, our natural instinct is to create opportunities for our students and nurture our students, but it’s important to take care of ourselves as well,” said Virginia Loh-Hagan, director of the Liberal Studies program and president of the SDSU Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Group. “It also recognizes the need that faculty and staff have to have connectedness and our diversities celebrated just like our students do.”

Sharing a culture

Marisa Reynoso, president of the LatinX, ChicanX & Hispanic Faculty/Staff Association, sees the ERGs as an opportunity for identity awareness and cultural education. 

“I was looking for opportunities to network, to meet new people and broaden my community on campus,” said Reynoso, assistant director of Advising for the College of Sciences. “I looked at it as an opportunity to connect with Latinx staff and faculty on campus, and find ways to educate, share and celebrate our uniqueness.”

Reynoso recalls when the LatinX ERG celebrated Día de los Muertos last semester by hosting an event centered around an Ofrenda [offering] and gave members of the campus community an opportunity to display photos of loved ones to the altar setting.

Reynoso noted that numerous members of other ERGs who were interested in learning about the holiday came to participate and support.

“It’s a traditional Mexican holiday we were able to celebrate and share with different people in the community,” said Reynoso.

Michael Juan, president of SDSU BAYANIHAN, Filipino American Faculty and Staff Association, sees the spirit of inclusivity for all and the opportunity for all employees of SDSU to have a voice and a space. 

“The word ‘Bayanihan’ actually means cooperation for the common good, and that’s exactly what it has done. The shared initiatives have really brought people together,” said Juan.

Students at our core

Though the ERGs serve the purpose of supporting faculty and staff, members have used these opportunities to find new ideas about how to support students, including partnering with student organizations that value similar ideals.

“It’s been something that has brought people out from all the different areas campus to support each other and create new connections, and new ideas for how we can support our students,” Chris Turntine, associate director of Employer Services and Campus Planning and president of the SDSU Black Faculty Staff Association. “When you get all these professionals together, they want to give back not only with our students, but what are issues in the San Diego community we can impact.”

“I want to express gratitude for the opportunity because I know this isn’t everywhere. I’m appreciative to have an outlet like this. It makes my job more enjoyable,” said Reynoso.

If you would like to learn more information or are interested in becoming a member of an Employee Resource Group, please fill out the online interest form.

 
Employee Resource Groups Build Community for Faculty, Staff
The initiative, launched in spring 2019, is designed to build an inclusive environment for SDSU employees.