The Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion logo
July 16, 2020
The Graduate Student Assembly
Advocates for Carnegie Mellon's International Students 
The last few weeks have been difficult for us all, and the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Directive issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week only made things worse. We want to thank those who made calls in the nationwide Call Congress Day last Thursday, that the GSA organized with the help of student governments from over 300 universities. These student voices made an impact. Members of Congress heard from us and the impact was apparent in the emails we received from member offices and the conversations we had with staff. We thank you for making those calls. 
 We wanted to further take this opportunity to update you on what we have been doing since then. GSA retained Clifford Chance US LLP, the 7th largest law firm in the world, and Mintz Levin as our attorneys last week. In an effort that was co-led by us and MIT Graduate Student Council, we filed an Amicus Brief in the District Court of Massachusetts. With the assistance of Clifford Chance and Mintz Levin—who represented all of us pro-bono, for which we are extremely grateful—we established a broad coalition of student governments from 15 universities, public and private, who signed onto this brief. As Amici, we submitted this brief on your behalf and all those students whose voices might otherwise not be heard. As Amici, we sought to highlight the very personal and human costs, inflicted on students, by a directive that is cruel and arbitrary. Our international students are more than numbers on a document or dollars in economic contributions. They are the spirit of CMU, and there is no CMU without them. We encourage you to read the full brief, which features multiple (anonymized) stories from CMU students and other universities. 
 And we won. The US government has agreed to rescind the recent guidelines on international students, and let them stay remote for the fall semester. But of course, our work is not over. There is still more to be done. If you would like to be involved in our future external advocacy efforts or if you have any questions or feedback, please reach out to our Vice President of External Affairs at We look forward to hearing from you.   
The 2020-2021 GSA Executive Committee
From the President's Office:
Confronting Racism and Promoting
Equity and Inclusion
Image reading quote from President Farnam Jahanian: "As we witness out nation confronting the legacy of racial injustice, we are committed to ensuring that Carnegie Mellon stands on the right side of history through bold and concrete actions moving forward."
The Center would like to highlight the communication released by President Jahanian's office regarding Confronting Racism and Promoting Equity and Inclusion. You can review the communication in full here and read more in the Pittsburgh Business Times. As always, the Center is here to support and uplift the work of our community as we engage in these conversations. 
PhD Student and 2018 MLK Student Speaker  Đinh Ngọc Phượng (Phoebe) Revisits Speech
This week, the Center is revisiting PhD student Đinh Ngọc Phượng's (Phoebe) (she/they) speech during the 2018 MLK Keynote Lecture in 2018. Jump to 4:17 for Phoebe's speech and read their most recent reflections below.
By Đinh Ngọc Phượng (Phoebe) (she/they)
Given the global Black Lives Matter movement, the COVID-19 pandemic, and ICE’s restriction concerning international students, I have been revisiting some old questions. How do I—how do we—heal when the hurting is systemic, pervasive, constant? To which deities in the pantheon of colonialism do I still pray in my subconscious? What does it take to help bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice, to borrow Dr. King’s words? How do I alter my existence to be in alignment with such an arc? I thank the heavens I can revisit these questions with my community around me.
Three years ago, I was uncertain what community meant. Having been an international student for 11 years, “home” has long become amorphous, borderless; “community” even more so. Now, community means teacher-friends (friends who are teachers, teachers who are friends). Community means getting a lift in a rainstorm because I could no longer walk. Community means being cared for by chosen family when blood family is too far away—or too close at heart—to care. Community means shared histories. Community means hand-me-down wisdom. As a Việt international PhD student in the US, I must own the complex ways in which colonialism and privilege interact such that I can be here. At the same time, I reject artifactual, calculated boundaries that prevent genuine solidarity and community building with those around me. I am discovering the potential of coalitions in making institutional changes with CMU Call to Action—a student group with members from all areas of social justice work dedicated to holding our institution accountable. Having helped with organizing MOSAIC—a CMU-based regional conference on intersectionality—and the Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit, I am reminded that reading and talking about decolonization and anti-racism can only get me so far, that so much of my learning is the doing, and that the internal work and the external work of decolonization must go hand in hand.
I recently relearned how to pray to my ancestors. With a burning incense stick between my palms, hands raised to forehead, bow thrice. Pray. Bow thrice again. Plant the incense stick in an urn of sand. In my extended family, we have a prayer script: One prays for health, wealth, and success. I realized I could just modify the script to be about community. Community wellness, community resources, community prosperity.

Đinh Ngọc Phượng (Phoebe) (she/they) is a rising 4th year PhD student in Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. Their research focuses on the mental representations and processes by which humans learn about causal events in the world across the lifespan. Phoebe is a member of CMU Call to Action—a student coalition working to uplift student voices in social justice and hold our institution accountable. They are also a current organizing member of CMU MOSAIC: An Annual Conference on Intersectionality, as well as the Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit (PRJS). PRJS is an annual Pittsburgh-based summit dedicated to the “collective work to dismantle the systems of oppression that impact the basic needs of Black and Brown people worldwide, and at the same time harms everyone regardless of social identity or socioeconomic status.”
Diane Eshelman's
Recommended Reading
Diane (she/her) is the Assistant Director for First-Year Orientation & Family Engagement. As a queer/bi, white woman, Diane has a passion for creating educational spaces around issues of whiteness and anti-racism, dismantling white supremacy, and intersectional feminism. In addition to her work with First-Year Orientation and providing support to families of undergraduate students, Diane has teamed up with The Center to host the Virtual Podcast Discussion Series this summer. Below she offers some recommendations she's compiled for what to watch, what to read, and who to follow on social media.
IG accounts to follow:
  • @thenapministry – “We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. We install Nap Experiences. Founded in 2016.”
  • @laylafsaad – “@nytimes & @thetimes bestselling author of #MeAndWhiteSupremacy. Host of @goodancestorpodcast”
  • @decolonizingfitness – “Ilya (he/they). Physical Therapist Assistant. Medical Exercise Trainer. Writer & Educator”
  • @blackandembodied – Alishia McCullough (she/her). Licensed Mental Health Therapist. Social Justice Warrior. Promoter of Fat Liberation & Racial Healing. Trauma Informed ED.”
Currently Reading:
  • Purple Hibiscus: A Novel, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Sister Outsider: Essays & Speeches, Audre Lorde
 Diane’s To Be Read List:
  • Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, Mikki Kendall
  • Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair, Danielle Sered
  • Emergent Strategy, adrienne maree brown
  • Pleasure Activism, adrienne maree brown
 Recently Read/Watched:
  • How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi
  • Such A Fun Age, Kiley Reid
  • The Witches Are Coming, Lindy West
  • Disclosure, now streaming on Netflix

Please click on an event poster to learn more.
Visit our website to view all our events. All event times are EST.
Event flyer for Tartan Allies
Event flyer for July's Virtual Podcast Discussion on July 28.
Flyer for Reclaiming Space: Connection Hour with our Immigrant Community on Fridays
Flyer for "Black Graduate Student Connection Hour"
Community Partner Events
Flyer for "Center for Urban Education Virtual Summer Educator Forum"
Flyer for "Advancing Social Justice: A Call to Action"
Event flyer for Black Minds Matter
Student, Faculty,

and Staff


and Resources

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) National Racial Equality Initiative for Social Justice (NREI) Fellowship applications are open today through August 14, 2020. To learn more and apply for CBCF social justice and other open fellowship opportunities visit:
Dismantling Racism and Addressing Anti-Blackness in Your Organization webinar with Kathy Obear and Jamie Washington.
Visit CMU's coronavirus information page to stay up-to-date on CMU-related news.
Stay connected and visit the Student Affair's event calendar.
Visit the Student Academic Success Center and the Eberly Center for resources for remote learning.
Visit this online resource for Bystander Intervention.
For information on bias reporting, contact the Center or visit CMU's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion website
Past Newsletters:
Diversity Pulse Check: July 1, 2020
Newsletter: June 19, 2020

Diversity Pulse Check: June 11, 2020
Newsletter: June 5, 2020
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Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion
Carnegie Mellon University
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