Her Campus Carthage had the honor of interviewing Roger Moreano, the new Assistant Director of Student Involvement for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs. While this is Moreano’s first year at Carthage, he’s been in the higher education game for 21 years. We sat down in the most inclusive office we’ve ever been in and got the scoop on where Moreano plans to take Carthage and how he plans to do it.
Photo courtesy of Roger Moreano
HC: So, your Carthage bio has you labeled as the Assistant Director of Student Involvement for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs. Tell me about that title.
RM: Yeah, I don’t know who made it up. It’s kind of long but I think the spirit of it is to really capture the essence of what I’m supposed to be doing here, which is to increase diversity in all areas of campus. Which is for institutions, in my opinion, the easiest part. You can diversify a community but that’s not nearly enough, and you can have an entire community that has diverse people within it but don’t interact with one another and to me, that’s just pointless.
So, that’s where the inclusion and equity piece comes in. I want to create programs and activities and moments where people are actively interacting with one another. [Where they are] actively engaged in each other’s communities and each other’s issues to understand that while the entire world wants to create a world where everyone is just treated like an individual and I just see you and you just see me, that is just the end goal. My job is to get the campus “woke,” as your generation likes to call it and to get people aware of these issues and how to do something about it.
HC: Your bio also says that you are the Founder and President of BRIDGES Consulting, LLC. What is BRIDGES?
RM: Yes! BRIDGES stands for Building Resourceful Inclusive Diverse and Globally Engaged Schools. I’ve been doing this work for 15 years and every year I have college first-year students and other students showing up in the college environments that I’ve worked in, and so many of our majority students, especially white males, are clueless about this stuff. I can see if you grew up in a small town that lacked diversity why you weren’t really exposed to difference and so that’s problematic… we need to fix that.
Number two, how do you not have diverse experiences in a very populated area? And it hit me suddenly. Not only was it the students that weren’t having these diverse experiences in the communities, but they weren’t having these experiences in the classroom either before they get to college, so why is that? Is it the curriculum? Maybe. Or is it possible that the teachers themselves weren’t sure how to deal with the issue and talk about these issues regularly and that they needed training on it?
Then it dawned on me; maybe I need to bring my expertise to teachers in the K-12 system and it might help their students. Then maybe their students might arrive to college a little more prepared, and sure enough as soon as I started getting the word out, [people agreed that] teachers and administrators need that kind of training, so I decided to start a consulting business. I do it on the side and Carthage has been very flexible with that. I just love this work and the more opportunities that I get to share it, the more excited I am.
HC: What is the most challenging part of your job? What are some challenges that you foresee here at Carthage?
RM: First and foremost, getting the student body to get to know me. That’s a hugely important thing that I take very personally. I really want students to get to know me individually and who I am as a person. I don’t want students to see me as a job title. I want them to know my life like I wear my heart on my sleeves and I want students to know who I am as a family man, as a worker, and as the things that I care about so that’s the number one challenge is getting to meet as many students as possible and be there for them so they know that I’m there for them.
Number two is the culture here. Getting to know the culture here and the history here, I’ve learned a lot in the nine and a half weeks that I’ve been here. It tells me that we have a lot of work to do and so with that said, I want to be respectful of the traditions and history here, but quite honestly part of what I’ve be doing is upending some of that a little bit as we move forward because too many voices in the past from underrepresented groups have not been present in the everyday experience of this campus and if we want this place to be truly inclusive, it’s going to change who’s present in people’s normal everyday environment.
It’s going to change how we do things from time to time. It’s going to mean more programs and opportunities and traditions that have a different face and that’s going to be really good, but it might ruffle some feathers for some folks who just aren’t used to it, but that’s okay. That’s my job is to absorb that. That’s my biggest challenge is to change the way that we do things around here so that everyone feels included.