Final Coffee and Conversation event of spring focuses on inclusion, embracing change

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Wichita State Head Men’s Basketball Coach Isaac Brown and the Coordinator of Student Diversity Programs Armonda Minjarez shared their stories, advice to students and more during yesterday’s final Coffee & Conversation virtual event.

Brown shared his experience being head coach at WSU and what he hopes to teach his players. 

“When I first got this job as interim head coach, I talked to the student athletes about giving me the opportunity to be their head coach,” Brown said. “A lot of them came here to play for a hall of fame coach who resigned two weeks before the season started, and I think we had great leadership.  Those young guys, they got behind and they followed the lead.”

Isaac Brown, Wichita State head men’s basketball coach (Courtesy of wichita.edu)

Brown said he wants his players to know there is a life outside of basketball.

“I would like to take these guys abroad, maybe two or three weeks during the summertime and go to Dubai,” Brown said.  “I want them to have a global experience and know there is more to the world.”

The next guest speaker on the show was Armando Minjares, coordinator of student diversity programs in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.  Minjares has been living in Wichita for eight years and is an artist and activist around themes of social justice.

Minjares will soon be unveiling the Belonging Plaza on WSU’s campus on April 24th at 2 p.m.  The Belonging Plaza will be a tribute to those who have been marginalized or underrepresented in the campus and community.  It is a collaboration between Strategic Communications and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and will be movable to different places on campus.

“We hope the campus community embraces it,” Minjares said. “It’s really important to us to bring this civility to people who are underrepresented or marginalized throughout history … We want for the students to think about people they admire and how this can be a tool to celebrate those people and their accomplishments.”

The plaza will be located between Morrison Hall and the Duerksen fine arts center.  They plan on making kits that will tell students how exactly to set up a plaza so that it can be student-led.

Minjares also talked about inclusion in the campus community and how members of the community can help make an inclusive atmosphere.

Armando Minjarez, coordinator of student diversity programs (Courtesy of Wichita.edu)

Minjares said one of the best ways to be inclusive is to ask how someone wants to be addressed.  He said it is an opportunity to realize that our language needs to change to also address non-binary people.

“We have two boxes for the gender binary … there have been so many people in the world since the beginning of time, yet we have two ways to address people, male or female,” Minjares said. “The reality is, there’s a spectrum when it comes to gender identity and representation.”

Minjares said a useful tip is to focus on the LBTQIA+ names when addressing people in the community.  

“Just because you have friends in the community and they are using those terms in a way to strip the power of those terms, it doesn’t mean that you as a cisgender person can use those,” Minjares said.

Minjares said it’s important to apologize and move on with the conversation because everyone makes mistakes. He said that it will always be a learning process.