Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Social Justice Stories & News

UNI campus

A quest for social justice

Systemic racism can take many forms, including in housing, medical care and the criminal justice system, but it can also occur in everyday technology - even automatic soap dispensers.

UNI campus

UNI Center for Violence Prevention and Iowa High School Athletic Association release racial equality and gender violence prevention programming

UNI NEWS SERVICES– The University of Northern Iowa Center for Violence Prevention (CVP) and the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) have partnered together to provide and support racial justice and gender-based violence prevention programming to Iowa school districts and athletic departments. 

UNI campus

Fulfilling a promise

Every Monday this fall semester, De’Carlos Anderson’s cell phone would light up with an inspirational text message.

UNI campus

Creating change on campus

The University of Northern Iowa is creating change on campus, and faculty, staff, and students are working together to make it happen. This past fall, President Nook announced twelve action items to address needs, challenges, and opportunities expressed by the campus community.

Jamie Chidozie, director of UNI's Center for Multicultural Education

Purple Couch series begins

Community policing was the main focus of the first “The Purple Couch Courageous Conversations,” a series of public discussions about equity and social justice on UNI’s campus. The series, which launched last week, was organized and moderated by Jamie Butler Chidozie, Director for Diversity, Inclusion & Social Justice. 

UNI President Mark Nook and Police Chief Helen Haire took part. Highlights from the conversation have been edited for length and clarity.

UNI campus

Local leaders discuss race, policing and social justice at UNI panel

Last week, a panel discussion on the intersection of race, policing and social justice was held virtually as part of UNI’s “Cultivating Justice: A 6-Week Quest Toward Racial Equity” series. The series, now in its fourth year, was launched in 2015 in the wake of demonstrations after the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. 

UNI senior Alma Pesina

Creating a community

Growing up just outside the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama, Iowa as the oldest of four siblings, Alma Pesina knew she wanted to go to college. But as the first member of her family to take that step, Pesina  sometimes felt like she was on her own.

Born to a Meskwaki mother  and a Mexican father, Pesina struggled to reconcile her two identities when she enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa in 2017. Without a role model to guide her, Pesina initially turned away from her Indigenous roots.

UNI alumna Trisha Etringer

“We are powerful”: One UNI alum’s journey to discover her Indigenous heritage

As the Dakota Access Pipeline protests turned violent on Labor Day Weekend in 2016, Trisha Etringer was on the frontlines, two months pregnant with her daughter. Faced with the barking dogs of private security guards, Etringer stood up for the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and was pepper sprayed in the face.

Jamie Chidozie

Fighting for Change

Growing up poor as one of nine children in Indianapolis’ 64th Street neighborhood, Jamie Chidozie learned young the blunt, destructive force of institutionalized racism. Her father, part of the first generation of Blacks in the U.S. to attend college en masse, earned an accounting degree only to be one of dozens of African-Americans who lost their state jobs soon after in a discriminatory purge, she said.

UNI associate director of freshmen recruitment and access Jesus Lizarraga-Estrada

20 under 40: Breaking down barriers

As a first-generation, low-income Latino from a single parent household, Jesus Lizarraga-Estrada can relate to the struggles of underrepresented students.

Now the associate director of freshmen recruitment and access at UNI, Lizarraga-Estrada is working to break down the barriers for minoritized populations to access higher education and succeed on campus, and his work landed him on the Waterloo Courier’s “20 under 40” list in 2020.Jesus Lizarraga-Estrada