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Category: UHDS Staff Blogs

Social justice is not ‘one-size-fits-all’  November 4th, 2011

My experience in the world of social justice, diversity, and inclusion has evolved greatly over the past year and a half that I have been a Community Relations Facilitator (CRF). Before coming to college, I went to Sherwood High School which is in a suburb of Portland that is very much predominantly White.

In fact, my school’s population was 95 percent White, and my mother, step father, and brother are all White as well. The demographics of my high school were coupled with a lack of awareness on topics of social justice and inclusion.  When I first came to Oregon State University (OSU), I was shell-shocked by the relative racial and ethnic diversity of the campus. I had never been around so many people from so many different cultures or backgrounds in my life. It was at this moment I realized I had the option to choose how I would to react to this new environment.

As a first-year student, I was a person who was “color-blind”, “gender-blind”, etc. I did not want to identify the differences between people or notice the institutionalized oppression that was occurring around me. I just wanted everyone to be treated “the same”.

As a result, a problem started to form. There is a big difference between equality and equity. I started to realize if I treated people equally, I would have to treat everyone the same despite their differences. In my attempt to make sense of this concept I found it helpful to think of analogies. Treating everyone the same would mean that if I were to buy shoes for everyone in the world, I would have to buy everyone the same sized shoe. I would not account for differences or identities; the idea seemed ridiculous to me in this context I realized that if I were to want to treat people with respect, it would require me to notice difference.

In other words, I would have to understand that different shoe sizes would be a necessity to create equity. Instead of helping make change for identities that are oppressed and targeted, I was reinforcing the same institutionalized sexism, able-ism, etc. that I sought to resist by going with the status quo.

After recognizing my ignorance towards the differences between people, I started addressing these topics through a different lens. The next phase of my progression involved the idea of owning my privilege; this was about the time that I started working as a CRF. I started to realize that there is a significant difference between people based on their identities. These differences sometimes result in a societal advantage or disadvantage regarding access to resources.

A resource refers to job opportunities, money, living situations, tax breaks, and many other things. One example of advantages and disadvantages can be based on gender. Men are institutionally privileged in society compared to women, people who are transgender, and gender queer.

Take this brief example: As of 2010, men make $1.28 for every dollar a woman makes with the same credentials, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Understanding the world in this new lens allowed me to notice other differences in my own life. When I walk on campus at night, I never feel worried about my safety, yet I know many women on campus who do. Some of those women are very aware of their surroundings in an effort to protect themselves from sexual assault; something I am never challenged to think about in my daily life.

While I am grateful that I am more aware of my identities and difference, I know I have much more learning in my future. I am still working towards building more inclusive environments for all identities. I work and collaborate with the people of various underrepresented social groups to make Oregon State University a better place not just for them, but also for myself. The fact of the matter is that although OSU is much more diverse than my hometown, there is still a lot to be done to make this university more accepting and inclusive of its diverse population. Having different identities on campus is simply not enough. As I continue to work towards my personal commitments to social justice, I challenge you to think how you can start to do the same.

One great way to become more aware of diversity, inclusion and social justice is by connecting with the CRF Program! We are always here to help create space for exploration and learning through workshop facilitations and dialogues. CRFs host many events throughout the year specifically for UHDS residents. Look out for our event fliers, emails, and Facebook posts. Please visit our CRF website to learn more about the CRF Program and how to get involved.

Kameron Beeks, Community Relations Facilitator


Homestay hosts make it their life’s work to welcome students to U.S.  October 24th, 2011

Meet the Wilcoxs: Host parents Ed and Virginia Wilcox, far left and far right, pose in front of their home with, from left, Ahmed Al Duaghan, Ahmed Al Kadi and Saad Al Ruwaili, all students from Saudi Arabia that have lived with them while at Oregon State University to study English. “That’s been our life – reaching out to International students,” Virginia said. (Contributed photo)


Ed and Virginia Wilcox have shared their mobile home in south Corvallis with four different Saudi Arabian students in the last year for varying periods of time from a few days to half a year.

The couple takes part in University Housing & Dining Services’ Homestay Program, which offers international students a chance to immerse in American culture by living with a local host family.

“I’ve traveled abroad. I know how it feels,” said Virginia who spent long stints in Papua New Guinea and on the Pine Ridge American Indian Reservation with the Oglala Sioux when she was younger. “I’ve lived around other cultures more than my own, which has resulted in reverse culture shock a few times.”

Ed is not as well traveled, but said, “Some of my best friends in school were international students. … Reaching out to international students, it’s like the nations of the world are right here.”

“That’s been our life – reaching out to International students,” Virginia added.

In addition to participating in UHDS’ Homestay Program, the couple is also a member of a local group called Friends of Internationals.

The Wilcoxs have had students from more than 75 countries in their home over the years, hosting many a festive meal for scholars away from home.

A guest book going back 19 years sits on a shelf in the living room. Fourteen photo albums chronicle hundreds of celebrations as well as outings to the beach and mountains, first days and farewells.

A World Map on the Wilcox’s wall is riddled with push pins showing countries of origin. A ping pong table sits in the middle of one of the main rooms, a favorite pastime for recent students that have lived with them.

The Wilcoxs — married for 19 years — share a deep Christian faith. They met at Kings Circle Assembly of God as widowers 20 years ago.

In recent years, however, they’ve exclusively hosted Muslim young men from the Middle East, after hearing that they were a difficult population to place with host families because of prevailing negative stereotypes.

Over the last year, they’ve hosted four men from Saudi Arabia ranging in age from 18 to 25. Three happened to be named Ahmed — Ahmed Al Ghamdi, Ahmed Al Duaghan and Ahmed Al Kadi. The student that lived with them for the longest period of time was Saad Al Ruwaili, who said his English improved greatly through conversations with the Wilcoxs.

The Wilcoxs have proven to be great teachers in that area — willing to cover their home in sticky tabs to help their adopted sons learn vocabulary, if necessary. Virginia also has a background teaching English as a Second Language.

When communication gets difficult, the family heads to the computer to use Google Translate to get a point across.

As for the difference of faith, it has been more of a curiosity than a conflict, the Wilcoxs said. The family takes time to explain the significance of religious holidays and finds ecumenical ways to share them.

“We ask about their faith, they ask about ours,” Ed said. “We just live our lives. We don’t push.”

During 2010-11, 22 students from all over the world participated in the Homestay Program. Out of a roster of 28 local families, 10 shared a long-term placement with a student, and others hosted students for shorter stays.

The Homestay program started in 2008-2009, and grew out of a partnership between University Housing & Dining Services and INTO OSU – an Oregon State program designed to help international students earn a degree in the U.S. by assisting with English language proficiency and other pre-requisites. UHDS has administered the program since fall 2010.

Oregon State’s Homestay Program is partially modeled after homestay programs in the United Kingdom but with an added emphasis on education and cultural exchange — not just an alternate way to provide room and board, said Jacqueline Chambers, who was hired as the full-time coordinator for the program in September 2011. Past part-time homestay coordinators included Katie Scott and Brian Stroup.

“It’s a ‘one-of-a-kind’ program in the U.S.,” Chambers said. And, the program is in-demand with a 23-person waiting list of students hoping to be placed with a host family in the fall of 2011.

“A lot of students will choose homestay to work on their English and learn cultural skills,” Chambers said. Having the support of a family network helps too: “For a lot of these students, it’s their first time away from home.”

Host families range from retirees to college students and needn’t live near campus, just close to transit options or be willing to drive their student to the university area for classes.

Host families provide a private bedroom and study space for students, and one meal a day (usually dinner). Hosts are reimbursed $20 a night to offset expenses.

Interested in being a host to an international student? See the Homestay Program website for more information or call 541-737-8754.


Every family is different: Another couple, Ted and Vickie Fullmer, seated, host up to six students at a time in their home. This year, many of their students hailed from East Asian countries. “Our family is always changing,” Vickie said. (Contributed photo)


By Nancy Raskauskas, UHDS online marketing specialist

Celebrating sustainable food systems  October 24th, 2011

Hopefully, you were able to participate in Food Day events on Monday, Oct. 24!  Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life to advocate for healthy, affordable food that is produced in a sustainable, humane way.  For more information, check out

UHDS, along with other campus partners including the MU Food Service, Student Sustainability Initiative, Human Services Resource Center/OSU Food Pantry and the Student Dietetic Association hosted information tables  in the Memorial Union Quad in celebration of Food Day. Each group shared information on services and resources that support healthy food.

In UHDS dining centers our goal is to keep healthy food accessible, affordable and from local sources, whenever possible. (See examples of healthy affordable food available in the dining centers in my previous blog).

UHDS is a member of the Food Alliance, an organization that promotes environmental and social responsibility for the food system, and demonstrates this commitment through partnerships with many local vendors.  UHDS is a proud partner with OSU’s Organic Growers Club/Oak Creek Farm.  Although harvest time is coming to an end, Cascadia Market in the new International Living and Learning Center still offers some selections such as tomatoes, hot peppers and bell peppers.  UHDS also supports many other local vendors. Here are just a few examples:

  • Bob’s Red Mill
  • Carlton Farms
  • Country Natural Beef
  • Dave’s Killer Bread
  • The Higher Taste
  • Franz Bakery
  • Kenagy Family Farm
  • Nearly Normal’s Gonzo Cuisine
  • Pacific Coast Fruit Company
  • Spring Valley Dairy
  • Rain Sheep
  • Red Hat Melons
  • Riverwood Orchard & Farm
  • Stahlbush Island Farms
  • Stella Gelato
  • Truitt Brothers
  • Willamette Valley Cheese Company

Waste not, want not.  In UHDS dining centers, leftovers do not go to waste.  UHDS supports community-based emergency food programs by providing leftover, usable food to Linn-Benton Food Share .  Additionally, plate waste is composted at Allied Waste. At Arnold Dining Center, customers sort all compostable and recyclable products and at McNary Dining and Marketplace West, sorting is completed behind the scenes in our dish rooms.

To learn more about what UHDS is doing to support sustainable food systems, see the UHDS sustainability website.

Thanks and Be Well!

Tara Sanders, UHDS Dietician

Being a friend, becoming a proud LGBT ally  October 20th, 2011

I was sitting in the Pride Center today, thinking about my first personal experience with LGBT* identities. I was in high school and one of my close friends came out to me as gay. He said I was the second or third person he opened up to about his sexuality. I realized that his coming out to me showed a great deal about his trust in me as a friend and a person. I didn’t know the term for it then, but this was my first experience of discovering what it means to be an ally.

Before this experience, I had never (knowingly) been around anyone from the LGBT community. I was raised in a very sheltered setting, not very aware of personal differences. I remained extremely naïve as a child, even as late as high school. I don’t remember knowing about people being gay or that they were around me. I just thought “people were people.” I was raised in a heavily Protestant family. I was taught that being gay was a choice and that it was bad. I learned that, according to the Bible, God didn’t agree with people who are attracted to the same sex. Realizing that one of my close friends is gay helped me make some personal decisions of what is true for me.

Surprisingly enough, my relationship with my friend was not at all negatively affected by his coming out. In fact, I think our friendship actually became stronger. I knew he trusted me and I was able to support him in his coming out to others when he was ready. I still saw him as the same person, because he is the same; the difference is that I now know him more completely. The fact that he is gay doesn’t change his personality or the friendship we have between us. Unlike some TV shows, I was not, all of a sudden, worried that he was attracted to me just because he is gay. He helped me understand that, for him, it wasn’t a choice. His sexuality was something he had been struggling to understand and share for quite a while. I am glad he chose to confide in me and include me in his coming out process. I am also glad his courage sparked courage in me to learn how I can be a better ally to him and others in the LGBT community.

Since I have been at OSU, I have found that going to the Pride Center events have helped me explore my own thoughts regarding sexuality and the LGBT community. I would like to consider myself a proud ally, and I encourage caring curiosity with regard to what it means to be an ally. I encourage you to check out the Pride Center soon. The Rainbow Continuum student group is another great avenue to learn more. I especially encourage you to check out their fall and spring drag shows, which are quite fun! In fact, their next drag show is at 8 p.m. Oct. 28, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.

Thank you for reading,

Nick Taylor, Community Relations Facilitator

*(lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender)

Mission nutrition: OSU’s dining centers launch ‘stealth health’  October 4th, 2011

Welcome to Oregon State University and University Housing & Dining Services!

At UHDS, we employ “stealth health” strategies, under the radar efforts to make the healthy choice the easy choice for those we serve.

A major stealth health strategy this year has been to offer inexpensive fruit, vegetable, whole grain, lean protein and dairy options. To this end, in all of our dining centers you will find a “mini” salad option available for just $1!  Also, sides of vegetables, grains and beans are 95 cents.  Non-fat and 2 percent milk is slightly less expensive than the chocolate version and apples, bananas and oranges are only 65 cents each!

Over the summer, the new International Living Learning Center building was completed and is home for a new Cascadia Market and Peet’s Coffee.  The Cascadia Market features a wide range of fresh produce, including organic produce grown right here on campus at the Oak Creek Farm. Also, there is a wide range of options for those with special diet considerations including gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan items.

Arnold Bistro’s Global Fare offers boldly flavored whole grains and legumes and you can design your own pasta special with healthy ingredients including whole wheat pasta.  At Nori Grill you will find a variety of hand-rolled sushi as well as other traditional Japanese cuisine options.  Build your own salad, Calzini or sandwich at Bings using an array of fresh veggies and whole grain breads and pizza crust.

Marketplace West and McNary’s Calabaloo’s restaurants feature the Pacific City Salad for just $1.95, made with local apples and dried cranberries and served with a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.  Calabaloo’s is also serving Corvallis’ iconic Nearly Normal’s Sunburger — a vegan veggie burger sure to delight carnivores and herbivores alike.  Marketplace West recently added a variety of freshly made salads at Cooper’s Creek.  Be sure to check out the Blackened Chicken, Grilled Vegetable, Southern Cobb and Beef Brisket salads!

McNary Dining’s Boardwalk Cafe features daily bean and grain specials such as Quinoa with Orange and Cuban Black Beans and Basmati Rice and Curried Garbonzo Beans for under $2.  Della Pasta will soon be offering a build your own “Benevita” Bowl layered with wholesome ingredients like brown rice, basil pesto and cannellini beans.

If you are looking for gluten-free options, vegan and vegetarian, or Halal options (for those who follow strict Islamic law), there are several available options for you in each dining center viewable at the following link.  Also, you can check online menus for nutrition, ingredient and allergy information.  If there are special dietary considerations that you need assistance with, I am here to serve you so don’t hesitate to contact me.

As always, if you have additional food service suggestions and ideas, we want to hear from you!

Be Well! Tara Sanders, UHDS Dietitian


Sushi chef at Arnold Bistro

Sushi chef at Arnold Bistro

Sushi bar at Arnold Dining Center

Nori Grill at Arnold Bistro

Summer Study Tips  July 11th, 2011

Summer classes are smaller and the campus atmosphere is more relaxed during summer. You’re most likely only taking 1 or 2 classes. Take advantage of that. Here are 10 more helpful tips as you enjoy studying in the sunshine throughout the summer.

  1. Get organized: schedule study times and study breaks.
  2. Incorporate 20-30 minutes of physical exercise into your study break. Stick to it. Hint: Dixon is open for summer session students and it’s not packed!
  3. Plan study times right after class. Retaining information happens best here.
  4. Be honest with yourself about studying. Don’t plan to study at 9 p.m. if your favorite show is on TV. Read the rest of this entry »

End of Year Meal Plan Options  June 1st, 2011

As Spring Term draws to a close, there are some options for managing your meal plan.  Since the Orange Rewards plan carries over from year-to-year as long as you remain affiliated with OSU, it may be beneficial to save your Orange Rewards account and spend down your Meal Plan account.  If you are in a situation where you may have Dining Dollars left on your meal plan at the end of the term, you will have an opportunity to help others who do need food assistance. Read the rest of this entry »

Have you decided where you are going to live next year?  May 27th, 2011

It’s time for OSU students to choose their 2011-12 living options. We encourage students to apply for housing as soon as possible.

Students wanting to live off campus are finding a tight rental market with a vacancy rate of about 1%. However, there are still many great options available for on-campus housing, including the new International Living Learning Center (ILLC) which opens in September, 2011.

The new ILLC will offer domestic and international residents can have an international experience without ever leaving Corvallis.  The ILLC will be a global village on campus, with about 50% of the residents representing many countries in Southeast Asia and beyond. In addition to program offering, there will be opportunities to pair up with language partners, cook meals together and engage with people different from yourself.

Each domestic student will be paired with an international roommate, and each room will share a bathroom with another room. Students can select to share a suite with a domestic friend and share the experience of living with international roommates.

If the ILLC does not meet your need, there are 13 other residence halls to choose from with a variety of themes, locations, and amenities.

Students can apply for on-campus housing today!  Visit us online at or call 541-737-4771.

Housing Selection Ends Soon! What You Need to Know:  May 24th, 2011

I wanted to take some time to make sure all of our new OSU students were aware that the process to select your own room for the 2011-12 academic year ends on June 1st. We pride ourselves in allowing new students to select their own room or cooperative house on campus, and want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to utilize this experience. Here are some frequently asked questions we’ve received throughout the process that may aide you in selecting a space:

1. How do I know if I’m eligible to select a room? You are eligible to select a room if you have completed a housing application for fall 2011, and it has been processed by the housing assignments staff. To check if your application is completed and processed, you may return to your housing application via the MyUHDS web portal, and see if you now have the “Housing Selection” option in the upper left of your application.

2. I haven’t been able to find a roommate, so how can I select a room? The process for selecting a roommate can be challenging, and we’re aware of that. If you are willing to be placed in an available double room you may contact the Assignments Office: for assistance with a room placement.

3. The building I want to live in is full. What are my options? I would advise you to select a room somewhere else. After room selection ends, and we send out official assignment notifications, we will begin a waitlist process for the summer where you can request an assignment change to a different building. Please keep in mind that if you and a roommate would like to move, we will need confirmation from both of you that you would like to switch assignments.

4. I’m not 18. How can I sign a contract? Regardless of age, everyone who selects a room online needs to confirm this selection by electronically signing a contract. Students who are under the age of 18 at the time of selecting a room will be sent a paper contract to have co-signed by a parent or guardian.

5. What happens if I don’t select a room by June 1st? After June 1st, we will assign students to rooms based on the date they completed a housing application and by their preferences as well as what space is currently available. Don’t worry, you will still receive on-campus housing.

Best of luck in your room selection process!

Moving Past White Guilt  May 19th, 2011

My name is Bree Mead and I am a sixth year graduating senior from Novato, California. I have been here so long because I am double majoring. I have an Art History degree already completed with a focus in Mesoamerican Art Studies, along with a Spanish minor and I am just finishing up my Fine Arts degree with a focus in Printmaking. I have officially been a Community Relations Facilitator for OSU since early April 2011 and it has really altered my life. I have been reading on social justice and diversity and also attended the first ever Exploring White Identity in a Multicultural World Retreat (EWI), the sister to Racial Aikido for students of color. It is a retreat for white people to learn and understand their own white privilege and oppression. In addition, I recently completed the Building Inclusive Communities (BIC) workshop to better educate myself on oppression & privilege.

These emotional experiences have been the most valuable to me in my growth as a white person in this world we live in. Read the rest of this entry »