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GITA gets the gold

Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy receives national award for outstanding women/gender equity center. Here’s what goes into the winning formula.

By Cory Phare

November 23, 2020

Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy banner imageMetropolitan State University of Denver’s Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy was presented the Outstanding Women and Gender Equity Center Program Award on Oct. 30 by the National Women’s Studies Association.

“I’m thrilled (by the announcement),” said Kat Martinez, Ph.D., associate professor and director/chair of GITA. “When you’re in the middle of everyday goings-on, it can be really challenging to recognize all the growth that’s happening.

“This is a good reminder that we’re on the right track of doing innovative things. I’m proud of the work we all do here.”

Martinez noted specific components that the NWSA’s Women’s Center Committee highlighted for the award selection. GITA cross-trains student employees across different operational teams (e.g., events, scholarships, outreach) and provides a standardized compensation set above minimum wage.

“We knew we needed to be creative to help keep students engaged,” Martinez said. “They’re doing so much and gaining experience in different areas, so we wanted to lift pay to reward that in a way that’d be the same for everybody.”

Another element the committee addressed was the integration of a training to combat the Wheel of Disillusionment, wherein power and interpersonal dynamics may lead to a toxic workplace culture. Martinez, who uses they/them pronouns, credited Associate Director Netty Rodriguez, Retention and Success Advisor Soj Sirivanchai and Department Coordinator Javonne Archibeque for developing and implementing the training now offered to other MSU Denver offices.

“The hope is for people to recognize they don’t have to have an office culture of mistrust or anger – and that it takes a lot of work,” Martinez said.

Other highlights from the past year included the launch of the “GITA Hold of Yourself” biweekly podcast series (and its spinoff, “2 Fat 2 Furious”); scholarship advocacy through transnational lenses; and the Safer Spaces Resolution and ongoing collaboration to advance the Board of Trustees’ commitment to anti-racism work.

This builds on GITA’s one-of-a-kind structure of housing academic and services under a single roof and underscores the intense dedication to building a space for students affected by intersecting oppressions, Martinez said.

“When you frame your vision around liberation, everything you do is about anti-oppression – and we heard that intentionality was another reason we received the award,” they said. “It’s exciting, and we look forward to ongoing collaboration to help support each other and students invested in this work.”

Topics: Academics, Award, Community, Excellence, Inclusion

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