SDP unveils new lounge in the SU

Deanna Merino-Contino (left) and Egypt Howard (right) in front of the SDP lounge. Photo by Shainna Alipon.

Student Diversity Programs (SDP) opened its lounge doors to students in mid-September. The lounge is located in the Student Union Room 135 and is a large, comfortable space for students. However, SDP offers more than just a nice room to study in.

SDP Interim Associate Director Egypt Howard described SDP as an office that provides in-person student programming like identity-based events and activities. The department is in charge of Latinx, APIME, Black, and LGBTQ+ events on campus. Student organizations can go to SDP to receive funding or support who want a partner or collaborator for their events.

“We can help students with a space to host their events, marketing and costs of their event as well,” said Howard.

Formerly known as Student Diversity & Social Justice (SDSJ), the department underwent a name change in Fall 2022 to more accurately reflect its new focus on student-facing programming. As SDSJ, the office did a lot more advocacy work and acted as the campus’ respondent when current events affected a relevant identity group. 

“Even though we no longer technically do advocacy work, we still are student advocates,” said Howard. “If students ever feel uncomfortable or discriminated against because of any part of their identity, they can come to us and we can still direct them to resources like Title IX.”

On top of a name change, SDP went through various office changes as well. As SDSJ, the team had an office on the third floor of the SU and in Houssels House (HOU). With its name change in 2022, SDP was forced to reside only in HOU. SDP moved back to the SU with its current lounge over the summer so the department had more visibility to students.

“We want to work with student organizations and listen to them and give them support for the events that they want to do,” said Associate Vice President of Student Life Deanna Merino-Contino. “So they need to know that we’re here.” SDP is an office underneath the umbrella of Student Life.

In the lounge, students can enjoy free coffee and snacks while having a quiet space to hang out or study. A table in the back has activities with some cultural background to it, like origami.

SDP also provides identity-based resource guides online. Howard mentioned that the guides are outdated, but they still contain valuable information about scholarships, communities around the city, and cultural businesses or practices specific to a particular identity.

“SDP is here to help contribute to an inclusive and empathetic community at UNLV,” said Howard.


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