by Tolu Taiwo


A week ago, one of my good friends and roommates started the #POC4CulturalEnrichment tag on Twitter. She was fed up with the way certain professors and administrators use people and students of color for educational purposes, and she started the hashtag to detail certain experiences. The scope of the hashtag expanded, and in less than a day, multiple students, student affairs grads, and social justice gurus were using #POC4CulturalEnrichment to talk about various racial microaggressions and incidents.

A lot of the tweets are very powerful, and I encourage you to take a look at them if you have time. But the main reason I bring up the hashtag is to talk about microaggressions from a student affairs professional standpoint.

It’s easy for me to point fingers at others and retweet various stories that I want my followers to learn from. After all, I too, have been a victim of some pretty hurtful microaggressions. But I, if I can be perfectly honest, am far from blameless in this situation. Over the past weeks, I have often called a couple of my cohort members by their easy-to-pronounce nicknames instead of their actual names (true, they offered up their nicknames to the class, but come on Tolu. It’s not rocket science). I will never forget the teaching moment I had at NACA couple of years ago when my mentor and I had a discussion about why I thought we should “just put the African-American comedian in February.” And if I had a dollar for the amount of times I have referred to a whole group of students as “you guys,” well… we’d probably have enough funds to bring a feminist speaker to come and teach me about more inclusive language.

These microaggressions are slight, and I have al``ys come from an innocent place. But I always forget that the impact may be far greater than the intent. This year, I directly supervise 14 students, and advise 5 of them. I work with an uncountable number of RAs, and I’ll obviously come in contact with more students. My goal was to be a teachable mentor, to allow students to grow and develop a positive sense of self. But I need to add one more goal to the list: to do no harm. I need to watch my impact, to be more inclusive, and to make sure I am not adding to a growing list of microaggressions that a student may be carrying around. Then, and only then, can I be the student affairs professional that I aspire to be.

What are some of your deeper diversity and social justice goals for the year?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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