As a person of color, I have experienced inequality throughout my life. Because of my passion for education and social justice, I earned a Juris Doctor (law) degree from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in sociology, with a concentration in race and ethnic relations and criminology, from the University of Miami. I am devoted to creating a more equitable and compassionate environment. As a result of my personal commitment, I was honored when Omicron Delta Kappa invited me to serve in the position of National Diversity Officer. Additionally, the Society’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Committee was elevated from being an operating committee of the organization to a governing committee of the Board of Trustees.
I am writing to share some of the steps that O∆K has taken to ensure equity and inclusivity within the organization. Below is a list of the recent efforts.
- Two of the Society’s scholarships have been specifically designated for students from historically underrepresented and marginalized racial populations. Two other scholarships have been designated for students who identify as LGBTQ+.
- The Maurice A. Clay Development Initiative Grants now includes two designated grants to support the diversity, equity, and inclusivity initiatives of our circles on their campuses. Also, four of the other 12 grants awarded this year had themes related to social justice.
- The Society launched a podcast series this fall. Listen Up O∆K Leaders! has produced five episodes to date, and two of the podcasts have been focused on deconstructing bias and advocating for change. I encourage you to listen to them.
- Additional content has been added to the Society’s website (odk.org), which includes resources for circles and members to help facilitate discussions about issues surrounding gender, race, and ethnicity. Information that explores O∆K’s journey toward becoming a more inclusive organization throughout its 106-year history has also been added to the website.
- Omicron Delta Kappa will present the Andristine M. Robinson Champion Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity and the Community Commitment Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity in early summer 2021. Nominations for both of these honors are now open, and I encourage you to identify individuals, circles, campuses, and programs deserving of recognition with these.
- Through the generosity of several individuals, a number of gifts of membership are available to assist students of color who may not be able to afford the Society’s initiation fee. Fundraising efforts continue to support this and other diversity, equity, and inclusivity efforts.
- Omicron Delta Kappa currently has circles at six historically black colleges and universities (HBCU institutions): Dillard University, Morehouse College, Florida A&M University, North Carolina Central University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Kentucky State University. In the 2021 spring semester, one of the Society’s newest circles will be installed at Talladega College. This new circle’s formation is supported by a grant from the Boulé Foundation, which aims to expand O∆K’s presence at HBCU institutions.
I am proud of the progress that we have made as an organization over the past semester, and I am dedicated to continuing this important work for the future of our Society and our nation. Today, I invite you to join me in supporting these efforts and learning more about them. If you are interested in additional conversation, please do not hesitate to contact me. I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your leadership in your community and beyond.
Yours in O∆K,
Moneque Walker-Pickett, J.D., Ph.D.
National Diversity Officer
University of Miami Circle, 1994