The Utah Valley University Student Association heard points on diversity training as a part of their growing effort for inclusion.
Dok Woods, mental health therapist and an employee at the Student Health Center, presented to UVUSA in an effort to help the council with what he called the “tough conversations.” The presentation took place during the Nov. 11 student council meeting.
“Don’t conflate, compare, or contrast [yourselves to others],” Woods told the council. “At least acknowledge the pain.”
Woods shared with the council past life experiences and how they’ve affected his education at UVU. As a UVU alumnus, he admitted to feelings of imposter syndrome, the feeling of a lack of belonging in a particular setting.
To illustrate this feeling to the council, he offered a metaphor of shooting a basket in the council chamber. If the basket was in the center of the oval-shaped table, members of the council sitting at the left or right edge would be able to shoot a basket a lot easier than the ones who weren’t.
Relating to the mental health of students, Woods argued that by not seeing or caring about these issues, students experiencing imposter syndrome from marginalized groups are put in jeopardy. According to data obtained from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 16% of African Americans reported suffering from mental illness.
Woods called on the council to be leaders on issues faced by minorities, women, and others by saying, “If you don’t care about race issues, you should not be here [in the student council].”
Woods then prompted the council to share experiences that relate to imposter syndrome and feelings of ostracization. Natsumi Ruiz, executive assistant, related her experiences being half Japanese.
“Just because I am half Japanese doesn’t mean I can speak Japanese,” said Ruiz. Daniel Cho, inclusion ambassador, related in a similar way saying just because he was Asian doesn’t mean that he was good at math.
Near the end of the presentation, Woods shared that services for students who are dealing with these kinds of crises are offered at the Student Health Center such as Crisis Services. These services include individual or group therapy, and psychiatric services.
Woods called on the council to be leaders of social change, saying, “What can [the council] do to make sure [minority students] are seen and heard?”
“You are constantly getting better,” Woods stated while answering a question from Daniel Cho on how to improve at hearing students. “Doing better is always trying. When you stop trying that is when you are not.”
For more information on how you can get involved in the student council’s efforts, visit their website.