by Devon Dickau, outgoing co-president of Out@Anderson
At UCLA Anderson, we are out and we are proud.
Last week, Out@Anderson, the student-run organization for LGBTQ students and allies at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, launched an effort to shine a spotlight on the challenges and achievements of our LGBTQ students, staff, faculty and alumni. In unity with the UCLA-wide LGBTQ Awareness Week, Out@Anderson crafted a series of online and on-campus initiatives to celebrate our community and empower active allyship.
To kickstart the week, our Dean, Judy Olian, emailed our alumni, students, staff and faculty announcing a new website celebrating the diverse LGBTQ community at Anderson, pledging commitment to equality. The UCLA Anderson home page, for an entire week, featured a glowing photo of some of our LGBTQ students and called for support from the entire community. For the week, our courtyard – the ‘town square’ of UCLA Anderson – became a rainbow, with columns wrapped in bold colors. No Anderson student could walk through the courtyard this week without noticing the rainbow.
Beyond developing new content for the website, each day of the week we held an “Ally Rally” to educate and convene LGBTQ allies. We launched a new Allies @ Anderson brand identity, which we leveraged for t-shirts, a banner, stickers that we placed on our name tents and our brand new Ally pledge. Over 200 members of our Anderson family signed our pledge, committing to allyship to the LBGTQ community and other underrepresented communities in the workplace and beyond.
Collaborating with undergraduate students, we hosted a program called Questions for Queers, a candid conversation with undergrad and grad student panelists representing every letter in the LGBTQ acronym. Then, in recognition of the National Day of Silence, we launched a twitter campaign #AndersonDOS and a new video, and almost students and staff joined us in the courtyard for a moment of silence.
To end the week, almost 300 Anderson students traveled to Stanford for the annual Challenge for Charity competition. Playing 20 athletic events against students from other top West Coast business schools – including GSB, Berkeley Haas and USC Marshall – UCLA Anderson athletes and fans sported purple “Out@Anderson PROUD ALLY wristbands.” United by our UCLA pride, we were also united by our allyship.
The Day of Silence acknowledges how society often silences the voices of members of the LGBTQ community in all corners of our society. This week, UCLA Anderson heard us loud and clear. We made a statement. For the first time at Anderson, the challenges facing the LGBTQ in the workplace and in the world are at the forefront of everyday on-campus dialogue. Awareness Week led a conversation on campus that I have no doubt will continue for a long time.
Meanwhile, the entire UCLA community is abuzz about our efforts – with the hopes to use our success this year as a model for other graduate programs across the university.
Most recently, Poets & Quants published a piece on my story – as both an out gay MBA and as a UCLA Anderson student – an article called “What It’s Like To Be a Gay MBA Student” that will reach thousands of current and prospective LGBTQ MBAs. My hope is that by demonstrating Anderson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, by engaging our allies in the fight for equality in the workplace and beyond, and by telling our personal stories, business school becomes the inflection point for creating stronger and more authentic leaders of tomorrow.
My personal goal is for every student to graduate from Anderson with the language, the knowledge and the tools to be an active and engaged ally to all marginalized communities – including the LGBTQ community – as professionals and as citizens. Whether we are LGBTQ students or we are allies, my hope is that one day all of us will be out and proud.
In addition to his leadership with Out@Anderson, Dickau is also on the board of the UCLA Lambda Alumni Network, UCLA’s LGBTQ alumni group, and recently gave a TED Talk on leading with authenticity as an LGBTQ professional as part of UCLA Anderson’s exclusive partnership with TED.