ASPSU to hold cultural competency celebration on March 2

The Associated Students of Portland State University will hold a Cultural Competency Celebration on March 2, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Smith Memorial Student Union.

Tia Gomez-Zeller, ASPSU Academic Affairs director, said, “We define cultural competency [as] the ability to effectively and respectively interact with people of different backgrounds.”

The event will start with workshops from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. which will consist of informational sessions about cultural competency and how to make culturally competent spaces.

From 5–6:30 p.m. there will be student groups tabling in the SMSU ballroom where students can connect with groups on campus.

Finally, from 6:30–9 p.m. there will be a celebratory gathering including a presentation on cultural competency at PSU and giving out awards to faculty and staff members. Students will be able to nominate faculty members for those awards.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sona Andrews and Interim Chief Diversity Officer Charles Lopez will both speak during the celebration gathering.

ASPSU has been working with faculty, staff and members of the PSU community to promote cultural competency throughout the university.

“There’s not a lot of avenues for peoples’ voices to be heard, and cultural competency, I think, can put a spotlight on things that are present and we don’t want to handle or deal with or that aren’t a part of our daily lives because it doesn’t happen to us,” said ASPSU Senator Melinda Joy. “Hopefully, this is a way to get students more direct contact with the people who make a difference in the classroom.”

ASPSU members said they hope to use the day to teach about cultural competency as well as celebrate PSU’s and ASPSU’s success so far. According to Gomez-Zeller, the celebration is a way to recognize student voices and present the cultural competency policy ASPSU has been working on.

“A couple months back, ASPSU…created the Policy Committee on Cultural Competency,” said Equal Rights director and ASPSU senate chair Galen Russell. “So what PCOCC has been doing is drafting a university policy to help change the culture at PSU to one that cultural competency can flourish in.”

Last spring, ASPSU collected over 800 surveys and conducted 17 focus groups on cultural competency at PSU. Committee members will present their findings, along with the current cultural competency policy, during the celebration gathering.

“One of the things we’re asking is for students to either do signs or do a little video to say why they want or why PSU needs cultural competency,” Joy said.

ASPSU held an event for individuals to make these photos and videos, but they are also accepting submissions by posting to the Facebook event page or by emailing them to Tia Gomez-Zeller at [email protected]

More information can be found at the event’s Facebook page or by visiting and clicking the event’s flier.