DIVERSITY, EQUITY, & INCLUSION
Hi folks! My name is Sophie Mei Sullivan, and I am honored to serve as the 2024 Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the USC Helenes.
As Helenes, we serve as official hosts of the University. That includes our service to its students and its neighborhood; our spirit for this community; and the family we are proud to work alongside.
As Helenes, we serve as an extension of this University’s life. That life is one historically marked by white supremacy, by gentrification, by disempowerment, and by silence. It starts with the land we occupy—unceded Chumash and Gabrielino land—and continues with the predominantly Latine and Black neighborhoods we now intersect.
As hosts of this history, we are proud to work as one to recognize this relationship, and to reflect upon, learn, unlearn, engage with, and commit to a history that reflects who we strive to be. In every step of our work, we look to host conversations and celebrations about how to foster an inclusive campus. The beauty of a diverse student population, and the beauty of a culturally and historically rich South Central corridor, affirms our continual work in advocacy.
This means taking accountability for where we started, and having pride for where we are going. When published, I encourage you to visit our forthcoming History webpage to understand more of our mission, and the efforts made by my predecessors to build a safe space for students, and a mindful microcosm of our University.
I am proud of the communities I call mine—of Taiwanese history, of an immigrant mother, of queer and allied spaces. At a predominantly white institution, these communities are occluded, isolating students when it isn’t suited to support stories that are diverse and unique. I am proud of the efforts to change this sentiment: we could not tell our story without allowing folks from marginalized backgrounds to tell theirs. It is essential in higher education.
Anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-discriminatory efforts extend far beyond the four short years we spend here. The Helenes’ DEI initiatives aim to encourage Helenes to be more conscientious about the communities we engage with and benefit. That comes from structure—putting the uniqueness of Helenes at the forefront, and making membership and learning accessible—and from education in language, intention, attention, and action. From there, we celebrate our camaraderie, our community, and our convergence.
There is much work to be done, and much more to say. This began long before me, and will continue long after me. I am always available for a conversation. It is a privilege to be on this journey with you.
Helenes love and all of mine,
Sophie Mei Sullivan (she/her)
The Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has curated a Resource List for folks seeking more educational or identity-affirming resources. This document is accessible here.