A new focus for the DEO

Photo by Kha Vo

Photo by Kha Vo

Laura Mae Lindo, the new director of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Diversity and Equity Office, has already been blown away by the school’s involvement with social justice.
According to Lindo, who began as the new director on July 14, there is a different vibe with students back on campus — the difference being how every student on campus can come to the DEO office when they need assistance.

“Ultimately the goal for me at this point, though, is to also try and create an identity for the Diversity and Equity Office that’s separate and apart from the students, because I think that we can better serve the student population if we become something ourselves,” she explained.

Two factors stood out for Lindo when she took on her role at Laurier, one being the student activism on campus.

“I was kind of floored by the amount of student activism, their engagement in equity and diversity issues and the fact that students are doing this kind of work on their own,” she explained. “It’s kind of a push for the faculty and staff and administration to step up our game as well.”

The second factor is senior administration and the role they have in supporting diversity, equity and inclusion across campus and how many people have reached out to make change through the DEO.

Lindo has had a lot of experience working in different fields of social justice and diversity. She studied at the University of Toronto Scarborough, but took five years off to become a singer/songwriter. She returned to York University for another undergraduate degree, which led to her masters and PhD.

She also worked as a professor at the University of Prince Edward Island.

After a few years back and forth between positions at UPEI and Ryerson University and following family and personal obligations, Lindo landed back at Ryerson University to work at their diversity institute.

Shortly after, she heard about the position at Laurier.

Lindo said her work at Ryerson’s diversity institute in the school of business has given her a different approach to equity, as the university’s focus was on diversity in senior management.

According to Lindo, her research has helped her promote things proactively as opposed to being responsive and angry.

“When you’re responding to something that’s happened to you, to a wrong that you’ve had and that kind of stuff, it’s not a pleasant conversation about diversity; it’s not celebratory or supportive. You’re actually sitting and pointing at all the issues and that kind of stuff, so it can get pretty heavy,” she said.

One of Lindo’s many ideas for the DEO is to have a big theme every year. This year the theme she’s focusing on is collaboration.

“We want to find somebody on campus or outside of campus to collaborate with [on projects] in order to make it come to life.”

Lindo is also part of the “Not My Laurier” campaign to end gendered violence on campus, as well as creating critical incident videos for Laurier’s Centre for Teaching Innovation and Excellence to use in classrooms.

She also wants to reach out to the Graduate Students’ Association and Laurier International. According to Lindo, the DEO is in the process of hiring an international student to get a better look at how students were educated in their home countries.

While finding her place in the DEO, Lindo is also in the process of planning another open house for international students during the fall reading week.

Lindo said the first open house early in September was a great success.

“I’m coming in from a different space so I’m more willing to play,” she concluded.

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