Effective October 13, 2021, the Graduate Opportunities & Minority Achievement Program, known as GO-MAP, is now the Office of Graduate Student Equity & Excellence, or GSEE (pronounced “gee-see”).
It is the most recent name change in the Office’s over 50-years of service to students and the University. The name change is more than cosmetic. It represents not only a renewed commitment to supporting Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander* graduate students as individuals, but to dismantling the institutional barriers that inhibit their success at the University of Washington.
Why the name change now?
One, we are in a new historical moment. The Office of Recruitment for Minority Graduate and Professional Students was established in1970, at the height of various social movements in which Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asians/Pacific Islander peoples demanded access, equality, and justice. The Office focused on recruitment, counseling and providing financial support.
Its existence was unique — while other campuses created programs for undergraduates, it was the first to focus on post-baccalaureate students and their particular needs.
It became part of the Graduate School and renamed the Minority Education Division in 1979. As recognition of its positive impact on students, it became known as the Graduate Opportunities &Minority Achievement Program in 2000.
We are living through another historical moment of racial reckoning. Racialized injustice, violence and stunted opportunities remain too ubiquitous in American society. At the University of Washington, GSEE represents a rejuvenated focus on not only supporting The name change is more than cosmetic. It represents not only a renewed commitment to supporting Black, Latinx, Native American and Pacific Islander students but on seeding institutional change.
Two, language has shifted over the last half-century.
The use of the word “minority” was common at the time the Office was created and remained in use into the early 21st century. Now, however, the term “minority” is not only outdated, but it does not signify the change-making we are committed to in our current historical moment.
Lastly, the name change signifies the Office’s expanded footprint.
The vision and mission of the Office has necessarily grown over the last 50 years. While it will continue to provide invaluable direct-to-student programming, GSEE will also focus on improving departmental climate and equity for our students in their academic homes.
A strategic collaboration with the Office of Equity & Justice (OEJ) crystalizes this new dual approach. This broader vision and mission positions GSEE and the Graduate School as advocates for the powerful pairing of equity and excellence we seek in order to make positive changes within the University.
We are incredibly proud of the foundation that GSEE and its previous leaders and staff have created. We hear countless stories of how the Office played a role in recruitment, retention, and a sense of belonging.
It is because of that strong foundation that we can take this step forward. The essence of GSEE remains — it will continue to be a space for graduate students to be in community, learn from each other, and push our institutions to be better. We look forward to all that GSEE will accomplish in the next 50 years.
*Federally recognized underrepresented minority populations (Black/African American, American Indian/Alaska Native/Indigenous, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Latino/Hispanic). GSEE also serves Filipino and Southeast Asian student populations.