View the Diversity and Inclusion Framework Report

2017-2018 DISC Annual Report

Dear MSU community,

            The Diversity & Inclusion Student Commons (DISC) is proud to share our 2017-2018 Annual Report outlining some of the key accomplishments of our programs and initiatives. In January 2018, we officially changed our office name from “Diversity Awareness Office” to the updated “Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons” to better align with institutional diversity goals and to reflect the collective and collaborative way the University addresses inclusion. The DISC recognizes that our goals extend beyond highlighting differences and we are committed to inclusive practices that deepen learning, discovery, engagement, and access. The renaming process has provided the DISC with opportunities to expand our physical space available to students for community building as well as the general visibility of diversity and inclusion efforts.

As we continue to address the priorities outlined in the MSU Diversity and Inclusion Framework Report, we have seen an increase in the number of people and entire departments who are eager to participate in this important work. In 2017-2018, the DISC experienced record participation, including:

  • Directly engaging over 2,000 individuals in trainings, programs, and events
  • Training over 600 participants through the Safe Zone program, totaling nearly 950 hours of training about LGBTQ inclusion facilitated by volunteer trainers
  • Presenting over 20 custom-designed workshops to campus groups and receiving numerous training requests from off-campus groups in the Bozeman community and across the state.

We hope you will enjoy learning about the work and successes of the DISC this past year. If you have questions, comments, or would like to get involved in DISC programs and initiatives, please contact Ariel Donohue, at, or visit our website at Thank you for your support of and participation in inclusion efforts!


Ariel Donohue

Director, Diversity & Inclusion Student Commons


Diversity & Inclusion Student Commons

2017-2018 Annual Report



The mission of the Diversity & Inclusion Student Commons (DISC) is to increase understanding, promote inclusion, and inspire critical thinking about diversity, as well as to provide support for those who identify with a wide range of diverse identity groups. 


Staff and Student Employees

  • Ariel Donohue, Program Manager/Director
  • Graduate Assistant for LGBTQ Student Support
  • Two part-time Sustained Dialogue Student Coordinators
  • Marketing Support from Communications and Event Specialist from the Office of Student Engagement


DISC Primary Functions

  • Provide information and support to the university community in the areas of understanding identity, bias education, multicultural awareness, community building, intercultural dialogue, and practical resources relating to diversity issues; 
  • Produce, promote, and manage events that encourage and foster diversity awareness around issues of gender, class, religion, ability status, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity; 
  • Develop and manage programs that serve underrepresented groups of MSU students; 
  • Provide a safe, supportive environment in which students can develop an understanding of the diversity they experience on campus as well as the larger global community; 
  • Enhance the leadership skills of students interested in the processes of raising visibility and understanding of difference and multiple perspectives 


DISC Program and Events Overview

Safe Zone

Safe Zone is a program that appears on university campuses across the country.  The mission of Safe Zone at Montana State University is to “promote an inviting and inclusive environment that is emotionally and physically safe for LGBTQIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, questioning) students, faculty, and staff… through (1) increasing awareness and education about LGBTQIQ identity, (2) developing and expanding MSU’s network of LGBTQIQ allies as well as increasing visibility of designated ally Safe Zones on campus, and (3) decreasing individual and institutional heterosexism and transnegativity.”

Our volunteer Safe Zone trainers are committed to contributing to a campus climate where all students, faculty and staff are free to thrive in academic, professional and personal levels in a community that is based on respect and value of diversity. These volunteers have undergone training and work to educate members of the MSU community in addition to the wider Bozeman public to be understanding and supportive of LGBTQIQ individuals. 

  • Three Safe Zone modules are offered both as scheduled, open to the public series and by office/department request on campus.  The three modules include:
    • Module 1: Awareness and Education
    • Module 2: Ally Development
    • Module 3: Unpacking and Undoing Individual Heterosexism and Transnegativity
  • From June 2017 to May 2018, 40 Safe Zone trainings were facilitated, including 24 Module 1, 12 Module 2, and 6 Module 3 workshops, attended by 628 attendees
  • 90% of participants reported either that they agreed or strongly agreed that the Module 1 training they attended increased their knowledge of LGBTQIQ terminology and issues
  • 93% of participants reported either that they agreed or strongly agreed that the Module 2 training they attended trained them to respond more effectively to LGBTQIQ people
  • 95% or participants reported either that they agreed or strongly agreed that the Module 3 training they attended deepened their knowledge of internal bias, heterosexism and/or transnegativity


Sustained Dialogue Program

The Montana State University chapter of Sustained Dialogue recognizes the need for cross-cultural dialogue on the influence of race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, ability, and age on student experiences and campus community relations. Through this program, we seek to empower students to address---through dialogue and social action--the root causes of identity-related conflicts by creating a space where students undergo a process of sustained dialogue and become tomorrow's activists for positive social change. 

Sustained Dialogue provides trainings and workshops about dialogue moderation and inclusive language and leadership. In the fall, we host a two-day dialogue facilitation training to prepare those students who will serve as moderators for weekly dialogues in the spring. This moderation workshop is the first part of Sustained Dialogue's Facilitation Certification, a year-long process that builds skills in moderating, leading and working with diverse groups, relationship building, and communicating. We provide the inclusive leadership and inclusive language workshops to student groups, classes, and offices across the campus. 

Sustained Dialogue also hosts the annual Common Ground retreat, which is an immersive experience for students to explore topics of identity, power, privilege, and oppression at MSU and in our society. Lastly, the Sustained Dialogue program annually hosts large public dialogue events for the campus and local communities.

The following are 2017-2018 Sustained Dialogue program statistics:

  • Number of students engaged directly in programming: 158
  • Number of trainings hosted: 4
  • Number of public dialogues hosted: 2
  • Students who completed year-long facilitation certification: 4
  • Number of students who participated in Common Ground retreat: 30 participants, 6 student moderators
  • Based on results of pre- and post-retreat surveys, after participating in the Common Ground Retreat, participants were significantly more likely to think critically about the experiences of others and how they can be improved and have discussions with people who are different from them.


LGBTQ Mentors Program

LGBTQ Mentors at Montana State University is a program that pairs upperclassman, faculty, and staff who are secure in their LGBTQ identity with LGBTQ students in need of support.  The goal of this program is to create a mutually respectful, supportive, and encouraging relationship.  Mentors support their student mentees in navigating campus and the community, developing a positive view of their own identities as LGBTQ students, and finding a network of friends and allies.

This year, 19 mentoring pairs participated in the LGBTQ Mentors program.  The DISC hosts a handful of groups activities throughout the semester; these are encouraged as a means of networking and building connections with other mentoring pairs but are not mandatory in consideration that some mentees may not be out. This year’s group activities included an on-campus screening of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a viewing of Call Me by Your Name during its screening at the Ellen Theatre in downtown Bozeman, and a bowling/billiards night in the SUB Rec Center.

  • Total mentors and mentees participating: 38
  • Community building events held: 3


Coming Out Day

In recognition of National Coming Out Day, on October 11, 2017, the DISC hosted a screening of Milk, the 2008 film starring Sean Penn and chronicling the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. 

  • Approximate attendance: 40


De-Stereotype Me Day

De-Stereotype Me Day is an event the DISC and Sustained Dialogue host twice per year as an opportunity for individuals on campus to publicly share stereotypes that have been imposed on them. We ask passersby and participants to offer a stereotype they have been incorrectly assigned and then include a true statement about who they really are. To do this, we table in the SUB and invite students, staff, faculty, and campus guests to anonymously offer an experience or to simply reflect on the responses of others. The stereotypes are then publicly displayed in the Leigh Lounge and at ongoing events related to identity.  This event was held October 17-18, 2017 and March 6-7, 2018.

  • Number of individuals who shared stereotypes during De-Stereotype Me Day activities: 60
  • Number of individuals who viewed the exhibits: ~200


The Gay Agenda: Queer Work and Politics: A Panel Discussion

Partnering with the MSU Women’s Center, the DISC sponsored a panel discussion titled “The Gay Agenda: Queer Work and Politics.”  This panel included six panelists speaking on topics ranging from inheriting LGBTQ histories, elevating the visibility of the LGBTQ community in outdoor recreation, and how a queer politics is good for all.

  • Approximate attendance: 60



DisQourse was originally developed as a discussion group for LGBTQ students to explore a range of topics related to identity where they could develop a better understanding of their own identities and build community. This year DisQourse was reframed in the model of a queer intersectional reading group.  Its goal is to build community through critical analysis and discussion of feminist, queer, crip, and critical race theory texts and to offer a forum for the exploration of connections, attachments, and solidarities that may as yet have been unexplored by participants.

  • Student Attendees: 24


Queer Frontier

In fall 2017, the Diversity & Inclusion Student Commons approached the Outdoor Recreation Program (ORP) with the proposal objective of developing a new program, Queer Frontier, intended to encourage LGBTQ-focused group recreation on public lands surrounding Bozeman. Recognizing the health risks and health disparities facing LGBTQ populations, this program aimed to inspire outdoor activities that would contribute positively to LGBTQ students’ physical, mental, and social well-being.  Additionally, Queer Frontier would be a way to challenge the assumption that natural spaces are not meant for LGBTQ people. Though we received a great deal of interest in this program in fall 2017, we didn’t get the desired participation when we held events. Still, significant connections were made in initially reaching out to the ORP.  Since then, the ORP has hiring on an LGBTQ-identifying graduate assistant while its staff has completed Safe Zone Module 1. The possible development of an LGBTQ-focused outdoor recreation liaison between the ORP and DISC elicits further conversation between the two offices.


(re)Envisioning the Outdoors: Exploring the Intersection of Identity and Public Lands

In April 2018, the DISC co-sponsored a panel discussion titled (re)Envisioning the Outdoors: Exploring the Intersection of Identity and Public Lands, featuring keynote speaker Mikah Meyer. Mikah Meyer calls himself “a new type of LGBTQ role model” with a mission to invite people to the outdoors, highlight the importance of public lands being welcoming to people of all identities and backgrounds, and to share all 417 National Park Service sites with the world.  His presentation focused on how he has navigated his identity as an openly gay with both his religious upbringing and with the outdoors during his three-year journey to visit every NPS site.  Following his presentation, Mikah was joined by local outdoor recreation activists, Vasu Sojitra and Francine Spang-Willis, and the NPS’s National Heritage Areas Program Manager, Alex Hernandez, to discuss the various ways in which gender, race, ethnicity, ability, and sexual identity inform our relationship with the outdoors and with public lands specifically.

This event was co-sponsored by: MSU Diversity & Inclusion Student Commons; MSU Women’s Center; ASMSU; the Center for Western Lands and Peoples; Department of Earth Sciences; Department of Political Science; College of Letters and Sciences; College of Education, Health and Human Development; MSU Queer Straight Alliance, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation Association, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

  • Approximate attendance: 75
  • Facebook Livestream Views: 545

Lavender Celebration   

Lavender Celebration is an annual ceremony held on numerous campuses across the country to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally students and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions to the University.  A Lavender Celebration offers the occasion for LGBTQ and Ally students of all backgrounds to be officially recognized and celebrated by the institution, acknowledging their various achievements throughout the course of successfully completing the college experience.

On May 3, 2018, the Diversity & Inclusion Student Commons held its third annual Lavender Celebration ceremony to recognize the achievements and contributions of graduating LGBTQ and ally students.  The event included a welcoming by President Waded Cruzado, a keynote address, individual recognition of 17 participating graduates, awarding of lavender honor cords to be worn at MSU’s commencement ceremony, and a reception.  In addition, this year six individuals were recognized as Lavender Leaders for their exceptional allyship and advocacy for LGBTQ students, awarded with a plaque presented by President Cruzado.

  • Number of graduating students honored: 17
  • Number of Lavender Leaders recognized: 6
  • Approximate attendance: 120

Diversity and Inclusion Trainings

The DISC continues to receive requests from various departments, offices, and other units for inclusion trainings. These workshops are custom designed educational trainings that address different topics based on the request. Some focus on LGBTQ inclusion or classroom issues and others address diversity more broadly. This year, the DISC presented over 20 workshops for campus groups including: Residence Life Senior Staff, Admissions, Residence Life RAs, Bozeman School District (x2), Division of Student Success, Center for Faculty Excellence, Athletics, Orientation Leaders, Residence Life (RDs), Multicultural Education class, Arts and Architecture Ambassadors, ASMSU leadership, Liberal Studies, and Nursing.


Collaborative efforts and program sponsorships

American Indian Heritage Day 

American Indian Heritage Day is observed with a variety of events scheduled in a visible, central outdoor location. The events, which pay tribute to the cultural legacy and societal contributions of Native American people in Montana and the U.S., include dance demonstrations, musical performances, storytelling as well as traditional game stations. This is primarily a program of the MSU American Indian Council (AIC) and the Department of Native American Studies in the College of Letters and Sciences. The DISC partners on this event both financially and with logistical support as needed.

Holocaust Memorial Day

In collaboration with the Gallatin Valley Interfaith Association, the Diversity & Inclusion Student Commons sponsors and assists with the details of the annual Holocaust Memorial Day events. Speakers, musical performances, and presentations focus on remembrance, survival, and hope. This year, Bozeman's Holocaust Memorial Day was called "Front Row at Nuremberg and Miraculous Escapes from Germany: A live documentary A Multi-Media Family Story."

Diversity Awards (at DSR)

The DISC presents two diversity-related awards at year at the Day of Student Recognition, the Spirit Outstanding Student Award and the Spirit Activism Award. The Spirit Outstanding Student Award is given to a student who embodies leadership, citizenship, and involvement, and belongs to an underrepresented minority group including the LGBTQIA community, Native American students, African-American students, and students from underrepresented cultural, racial, or religious identities. The Spirit Activism Award is given to a student who embodies leadership, citizenship, and community involvement, demonstrating these characteristics through their achievements and work towards social justice.

Bozeman's Jewish Film Festival

The Congregation Beth Shalom and the DISC are presenting the 4thannual Jewish Film Festival over the summer of 2018 which includes six weeks of Jewish films that cover a wide range of issues.

May 23: Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel

June 6: 1945

July 11:Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

July 18: Let Yourself Go

July 25: Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story

August 1: Fanny’s Journey


Campus-Wide Efforts/Initiatives

Chosen Name Project

The Chosen Name Project is an effort to create a four-campus solution to support students, faculty, and staff in using an institutionally recognized name that is different from their legal name. The DISC has participated in the Chosen Name project since its inception in 2016, attending weekly meetings, consulting on decisions, and acting as a case manager conducting intake interviews. Currently, the program is open only to students and priority is given to students whose right to use a chosen name is protected under state and/or federal civil rights law. There are presently 17 students participating in this program.

Mixed Gender Housing

Since 2016, the DISC has been working with Residence Life to develop a gender inclusive housing option that would meet the needs of our students within the confines of MSU’s current housing infrastructure. A pilot living option called Mixed Gender Housing (MGH) is being offered for the 2018-19 academic year that will allow students to live in a suite, with suitemates being assigned regardless of their sex or gender.

Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council

Ariel Donohue was appointed co-chair of this Council, along with Dean Sarah Shannon, in fall 2017. The priorities of this Council were to implement a campus climate survey, to develop and conduct a search for a senior administrator position for diversity, and to strengthen university communications around diversity and inclusion efforts and values. In the first year of this Council’s work, they partnered with UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) to conduct a campus climate survey for students, faculty, and staff in March of 2018. Results will be returned to MSU by the end of summer 2018. Additionally, the group took the campus community’s feedback from the Diversity Summits and developed a proposed position, position description, and timeline for hiring a senior administrator for diversity. A search committee has been assembled and MSU aims to hire its first Senior Diversity and Inclusion Officer by January 2019.