by Rebekah Estevez, Halleh Hashtpari and Jacks Cheng

The Div. 44 Student Representative Trio (Rebekah Estevez, Halleh Hashtpari and Jacks Cheng) is excited to provide membership with an update on the newly minted Community of Students (CoS) Leadership Team. The CoS Leadership Team was created with the goal of increasing the participation and representation of our approximately 320 student members in division activities. In the most recent survey of student members, results indicated that students felt that Div. 44 personnel and resources were inaccessible and also reported reservations due to lack of intersectional representation. Despite these negative experiences, students who responded to the survey also reported strong interest and willingness to be more engaged in divisional activities. Through the creation of the CoS structure, which mirrors the Div. 44 executive committee and the presidential and member-at-large trios, we are hopeful that student members will have more opportunities to get acquainted with division governance and find their home within the division through new leadership pipeline opportunities created by the structure.

Current Initiatives

Expansion of Student Ambassador Program. At the 2018 APA convention, the CoS Leadership Team met for the first time to brainstorm goals and initiatives for the coming year and have hit the ground running. Part of the structural changes to the CoS Leadership Team has included an expansion of the CoS Student Ambassador Program. Under the initiative of past Div. 44 Student Representative Dawn Brown, the goal of the Student Ambassador program is to create support networks among LGBTQ-identified students, increase student knowledge of and involvement in the division and share resources and research agendas across campuses. The Student Ambassador program has expanded to include ten Campus Ambassadors, four Regional Ambassadors who oversee their assigned region and one national Engagement Specialist to oversee the program. Recent activity within this program includes collaboration between Engagement Specialist Steven Hobaica and Div. 45 campus representatives at his university to create a general diversity committee. This committee has facilitated catered discussion events on topics related to diversity, a diversity-based poster session, and discussion panels led by graduate students for undergraduates interested in pursuing a graduate degree.

Whiteness Accountability Group (WAG). WAG for student members is led by Rebekah Estevez, Elliott Devore, Jeffrey Grimes, Sarah Jobs,and Cathryn Richmond. This group is modeled after the Div. 44 Executive Board's recent initiatives with the goal of creating courageous conversations that allow individuals to be vulnerable, brave and honest about current experiences regarding our privileges and identities. Within this space, the adoption of a non-hierarchical, egalitarian structure founded in equity was agreed upon to encourage critical thinking about race and white privilege. The goal of WAG is to deconstruct whiteness and eliminate racism from both national and community levels, as well as within Div. 44 and LGBTQ spaces through empowering student members to voice objections and engage in action against racism. Current WAG activities include development of an ongoing bank of resources related to racism, xenophobia, white privilege and intersectionality; drafting subjectivity statements of our positionalities, privileges and biases; engaging in critical discussion of materials related to deconstructing whiteness by decolonizing feminist authors of color (e.g., Cherrie Moraga, Audre Lorde); creating materials to provide to Div. 44 student members to assist with deconstructing their own privileges; and drafting a needs-based assessment to ensure the structure and utility of WAG continues to meet the needs of the larger Div. 44 student group. Future goals include creation of a Listserv and Facebook group to allow opportunities for more student members to engage in the related discourse; dialoguing with Div. 49 regarding white accountability at APA 2019; development of a toolkit utilizing the materials currently being collected in the resource bank; and partnering with the Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity to conduct a webinar for students to disseminate and discuss the use of the toolkit.

Support for Students. Another initiative underway for the CoS Leadership Team is creating a network of support for students who are experiencing queer and trans-antagonism in their programs led by Halleh Hashtpari, Elliott Botelho, Roberto Renteria and Rebekah Estevez. This initiative currently has two primary goals: (1) to create a national online forum where students can receive support and access to community and division resources through both a Google group and regularly held Zoom meeting; and (2) creating in person accessibility to support through local meet ups for students experiencing antagonism/negativity by way of the CoS campus representative program.

Social Advocacy. The CoS Leadership Team worked together to develop a statement and call to action of all student members in response to an alleged leaked memo from the current administration that aimed to minimize the rights of transgender and gender diverse people. This memo, obtained by the New York Times , discussed the administration's proposal of defining gender as an “immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” thereby erasing the existence of trans and gender-diverse individuals and removing rights to protections by Title IX federal legislation. The CoS Leadership Team felt strongly that we needed to affirm and support our trans and gender-diverse members through a unified response and identification of specific ways in which we could mobilize our strong student membership to act. This response and call to action were posted to both student and overall membership Listservs and Facebook accounts and included clickable links to access information to aid in calling legislatures, education regarding local and national protections and barriers for trans and gender-diverse people and self-care tools and education about one's rights for our trans and gender-diverse membership.

Cross-Division Collaboration. CoS leadership has prioritized partnership and community-building with other social justice-oriented APA divisions. In line with this goal, the CoS Student Representative Trio has partnered with student leaders from Divs. 45 (Culture, Ethnicity and Race), 17 (Counseling Psychology) and 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) in order to create student-focused and student-led initiatives at the National Multicultural Conference and Summit (NMCS) 2019 conference. Programming may include a networking and support-focused social hour for students, as well as a potential roundtable for conversation between students and seasoned psychologists.

The Div. 44 CoS is proud to be working together to create more avenues for advocacy, leadership and service. As we continue to expand and solidify the structure of the CoS, more leadership positions will be available. If you are interested in getting involved with the new CoS Leadership Team, please email Bekah or Jacks for more information. Also, keep an eye on the next round of applications in the student Listserv and Facebook group.

2018-2019 Community of Students Leadership Team

Student Representatives:

  • Chair (Celebrations): Jacks Cheng, Indiana University Bloomington
  • Chair (Voices): Bekah Ingram Estevez, University of Georgia
  • Chair (Engagement): Halleh Hashtpari, University of Utah

Engagement Specialists:

  • Advocacy: Andrew Arriaga, University of Texas at Austin
  • Connections: Cathryn Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Outreach: Roberto Renteria, Arizona State University
  • Ambassadors: Steven Hobaica, Washington State University

Student Ambassadors:

  • Central Region: Quillian Murphy, Indiana University Bloomington
  • East Region: Dan Murphy, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • South Region: Elliot DeVore, University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • West Region: Conor Smith, University of San Francisco
  • Campus: Ashley Nye, Midwestern University
  • Campus: Rachel Chickerella, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Campus: Natalia Andino-Rivera, Florida School of Professional Psychology
  • Campus: Sarah Job, East Tennessee State University
  • Campus: Amanda Lappin, University of Kansas
  • Campus: Karen Stovall, University of Utah
  • Campus: Monica Ghabrial, University of Toronto
  • Campus: Sam del Castillo, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Campus: Jeffrey Grimes, University of Iowa

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