Western Today reached out to Amy Westmoreland, Western’s new director of multicultural student services, as she slowly but steadily traversed the country from Pennsylvania for her first day on campus on November 1. We found Amy somewhere outside of Fargo in the North. Dakota as she drove west towards that night’s stop in Billings, MT, and told us why she was so excited to be on campus, which she considers to be the main challenges ahead and the messages she has for the students she will be working with.
Western Today: Why don’t you talk about yourself on campus a little bit?
“My name is Amy Salinas Westmoreland (she / she). I am mixed race, black and Mexican. I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I have lived all over the United States, but it is far away my furthest move. many students that I will serve, I am far from family and friends. I travel to Bellingham with Samuel Salinas Westmoreland my 10 year old tuxedo cat. I enjoy laughter like an excellent connector and healer. On weekends you will find me in second hand bookstores, making new recipes or watching reality TV. ”
WT: Tell us about your new role.
“The position of Director of Multicultural Student Services is new not only to me, but to Western Washington University. My goal is to create informative and inclusive programming that centers many different salient identities. I am excited about the opportunity. to build the structure of this position and support the university’s equity, inclusion and retention goals.It is an honor to bring energy and action to a position that has been created through student advocacy and black student organization action. The key to the success of this position is working with many different stakeholders among students, staff, faculty, administration and community. I look forward to building a student-centered space where we celebrate different identities, learn to resolve conflict and form a coalition. ”
WT: Why were you interested in this position?
“This position excites me because the goals of Enrollment and Student Services and Western Washington University align with my own goals and values. My mission is to make higher education accessible, to create spaces. inclusive, to center the voices of people with marginalized identities, and to help students achieve their own goals. When I researched this position, the first things that caught my attention were the student organization’s list of demands black people and the administration response. Student advocacy speaks to my heart. I am delighted to work with students who are invested and who have made such a powerful statement. I was impressed that the The university took action and I could easily see the progress that has been made. I could imagine my skills and experiences running a multicultural center, facilitating justice. ocial, and assessment and strategic planning efforts are ideal for this position. ”
WT: What challenges do you see ahead?
“I think the biggest challenge for this position is also the greatest opportunity. Although this position is new at Western Washington University, similar positions have existed at many colleges and universities for decades. Because this position doesn’t exist. didn’t exist here, there are a lot of people doing a great job already. I think part of the challenge will be getting to know all the work that is already being done and finding ways to collaborate and support. Like This is a new position, there is also an opportunity to do benchmarking and applying strategies that other institutions have found successful.
WT: How has the impact of roles like yours on campus changed as a result of more active social justice movements across the country?
“I think the necessity of my role is crucial for higher education. My position is really focused on supporting and amplifying the voices of students with marginalized identities. Cultural centers and spaces have historically faced challenges – whether limited resources (staff, space), lack of understanding and / or lack of institutional support. Currently, we are seeing critical race theory come under attack in higher education, silencing those voices. The goal of my position and similar positions remains the same over time: to create inclusive spaces that support the students and students of the center with a marginalized identity. ”
WT: You drive across the country to get to campus and be at your office on November 1. What message do you have for the students who are delighted with your arrival?
“You are all the backbone of this position and it is important for me to honor this and build what you need. I am ready to meet with you! I will schedule meeting and welcoming hours once settled in. , but I encourage you to come by and share your story. This post is about community and connections, and I’m ready to know the students that I will be working with and supporting. “