Institutional Equity & Belonging


We at MCLA and in the Institution for Equity and Belonging know that college campuses help shape the future. And we also know that the future of social justice work goes far beyond tolerance, or even acceptance. The future of social justice celebrates, uplifts, and empowers. It knows when to listen and when to speak up. It values learning and education as much as action. It leads with radical compassion and empathy. And of course, as our students know, it makes use of all of the tools available to us in the modern age.

These are the values we aim to foster in our students in their time here, and we know how important it is for them to have those experiences both in and out of the classroom.  That is why we have created multiple spaces on our campus for students to share experiences, build community, learn and grow as they dive into both their lives experiences and identities, and explore those of others. Our students, staff, and institution aim to shape the future together by embracing and uplifting diversity in all its forms as an agent of social change toward the future we all deserve.



Multicultural Education Resources Center, with background of ALANA graduates

The Multicultural Center and its affiliate space, the Empowerment Lounge provide space, resources, access to shared community, and programming for African, Latino, Asian, Native American, (ALANA) and international students. The MERC offers the opportunity for students to be unapologetically and authentically themselves, to celebrate diversity, to foster inclusion, and to access a variety of tools and resources for student belonging and success.

Gender & Sexuality Center Logo with background of feminist and LGBTQIA+ supportive hand signs

The Gender & Sexuality Center provides a safe space, resources, programming, and opportunities for community building for all genders and sexualities, including women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and exploration of healthy masculinity. The GSC offers a variety of opportunities to build community amongst those of shared experiences, to strengthening knowledge & awareness of issues that face each group, and to  growing skills of advocacy and activism.

Veteran's Resource Center, with background of American Flag on MCLA campus

The Veteran's Resources Center provides a space, resources, and opportunities to build community with folks of shared experiences for veteran students on campus. The VRC aims to ensure that veteran students find a home on campus and have access to the tools and resources they need to find success in college and in life.

The VRC is located on the top floor or Venable Hall, directly across from the back entrance.

Affiliate Groups & Clubs

The Office of Institutional Equity and Belonging works closely with a variety of clubs and student-run groups to ensure an opportunity for all students to find a home here at MCLA, to explore themselves, to meet others with shared experiences, and to learn more about experiences that aren't their own and how to show up in allyship.

Asian Student Association Black Student Union Femme Forward Coalition
Latin American Society My Masculinity Dialogue Group NEXXUS Step Team
Out@MCLA Queer Student Union Women of Color Initiative


Institutional Equity Digest

Our department newsletter is released twice per semester and is designed to give you the inside scoop on everything diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging here at MCLA. Each newsletter includes sections, such as semi-semester updates, upcoming programs and events, workshop and training opportunities, events, community work opportunities, resources and a Trailblazer Spotlight!

Institutional Equity Digest

  Visit the Archive   



Related resources

We encourage all students to take advantage of all resources available across our campus in order to thrive at MCLA

Health Services Tapestry Health Counseling Services
Disability Services TRiO Student Support Services Academic Support Services
Title IX and Equal Opportunity Office Career Services Veteran's Services



We encourage all members of our community to keep growing and learning in their allyship. No matter which communities we stand as an ally to, there is always more work to be down and more to learn. Allyship is active and we are committed to doing our part.

Workshops & Trainings

September 21, 2023; 1:00-2:30 EST [Virtual]
“Leading for Racial Equity During the Counteroffensive” 
Dr. Tia Brown McNair Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth and Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Centers, American Association of Colleges and Universities 

October 10, 2023; 1:00-2:30 EST  [Virtual]
“Validating Students’ Presence & Abilities: Practices of Belonging & Mattering” 
Dr. Isis Artze-Vega, College Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs, Valencia College & Primary Author of Norton’s Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching 

November 9, 2023; 1:00-2:30 EST  [Virtual]
“Equity-minded Human Resources Practices” 
Dr. Román Liera, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership, Montclair State University 

February 1, 2024; 1:00-2:30 EST [Virtual]
“Emotional Labor in Shared Equity Leadership Environments: Creating Emotionally Supportive Spaces” 
Ms. Darsella Vigil, Senior Research Analyst, American Council on Education 

March 21, 2024; 1:00-2:30 EST  [Virtual]
“Racial Equity Policy Frameworks” 
Elena Quiroz-Livanis, Chief of Staff and Assistant Commissioner for Academic Policy and Student Success; Christine Williams, Assistant Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs and Strategic Initiatives at the MA Department of Higher Education; Jinann Bitar, Director, Higher Education Research and Data Analytics; Wil Del Pilar, Senior Vice President; Victoria Jacson, Assistant Director of Higher Education Policy; Philip Martin, Director, Higher Education Policy Implementation at The Education Trust 

Safe Zone Workshops [IN PERSON, ON CAMPUS]
Safe Zone offers 4 trainings on varying topic specific to creating safe spaces and growing in allyship for the LGBTQIA+ community, with expanding offerings that increasingly address intersectionality.

  • SAFE ZONE 1.0 focuses on understanding the rules of allyship, understanding the basics of LGBTQIA+ identities, and how we can shift our own language and actions to create inclusive and welcoming spaces.
  • GENDER 101 focuses on practical exploration of gender-identity and gender expansive allyship, so that you can build a better understanding of the gender spectrum, clear up confusion around gender and pronouns, and most importantly practice in a safe space!
  • SEXUALITY 101 focuses on an expansive exploration of attraction and relationship experiences and identities, coming out, and allyship across the attraction spectrum.
  • SAFE ZONE 2.0 is a discussion-based workshop designed for those already familiar with LGBTQIA+ basics, who are ready to explore more deeply intersectionality and way that we can be better, more active allies as individuals and in our communities.


Resources - explore at your own pace

Suggestion Box

What workshops, trainings, or programs would you like to see brought to MCLA to help our community continue to foster and celebrate diversity, equity, belonging, inclusion, and justice?


Get Support

We are here to listen, help, and support you through your journey here at MCLA! Reach out to set up a meeting.

Arlene Theodore
Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Initiatives

Arlene is a passionate educator, mentor, and leader. Her love and passion for social justice is implemented in her everyday work. As a black woman who has attended predominantly white Institutions her entire life, she seeks to help students of color navigate their own personal experience and hardships while attending a PWI. Through a social justice lens, Arlene aims to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive spaces on campus. With extensive experience in the field of Higher Education, Arlene prides herself on mastering the art of creating authentic, brave, bold, and safe spaces. The programs that you can find her doing include Intersectionality, racial battle fatigue, cultural identity, race relations, microaggressions, and white privilege. As a champion for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice she continues to serve as an advocate, a resource, and a mentor for current students and her mentees who have graduated. Through her trainings, programs, and workshops she aims to educate folks on the importance of everyone doing “this work”, in an effort to be more of a compassionate and inclusive campus that truly creates a sense of belonging. 

Ara Phoenixx
Program Coordinator for Gender & Sexuality

Passionate about social justice and intersectionality, Ara is a queer, nonbinary educator, mentor, and coach. They draw on their experience in education, holistic wellness, and the queer experience to create safe spaces that empower and uplift others to lead with confidence, authenticity, and inclusivity. Ara loves integrating intersectionality work and mindfulness practices to help students and staff prioritize their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Equally, they aim to approach programming through an intersectional lens, creating space to discuss feminism, LGBTQIA+ identities, and the intersections of other lived experiences (such as race, class, or disability) as they aim to foster community, education, and activism. In their role at MCLA, Ara serves as the professional staff leader for the Gender & Sexuality Center, serving as a mentor for all LGBTQIA+ and women students, as an advisor for student-led affinity groups, and as a program coordinator for the GSC.