A SPIA Perspective: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Student Reps.

Dec 06 2022
Amanda Stark, Sergio Rodriguez Camarena, Paco García Bellego, Ryan Sasse, Avery Barnett

Diversity and inclusion representatives work with Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) faculty and administration toward building an inclusive community. They serve as liaisons between students and staff and are in regular communication with SPIA’s DEI team, to help design relevant programming and raise student concerns. We work to create safe spaces for people from historically marginalized and underrepresented identities at SPIA and take the lead in facilitating student discussions around how to make our School a welcoming environment for all. To learn more about SPIA’s commitment to issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), please click here.

Who We Are 

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Student Representatives Team is part of the Princeton University Policy Student Government (PUPSG). We are elected representatives from across SPIA’s PhD, MPA1, MPA2, and MPP cohorts, representing historically underrepresented populations on campus as well as select SPIA affinity groups. We also work closely with faculty and staff from across SPIA through weekly team meetings, trainings, and as members of the SPIA DEI standing committee.

Our Mission

DEI Representatives are committed to creating and fostering a welcoming environment at SPIA that actively includes students across multiple dimensions of diversity, including race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender identity and expression, sexuality, age, ability, and beyond. We strive to advocate for the needs of underrepresented students, promote equity in and out of the classroom, and facilitate intentional conversations around identity, intersectionality, and allyship.

Community Programming 

We organize and host weekly DEI Dinners, which offer space for community building, an opportunity to explore DEI topics through informal discussion and facilitated sessions, and a weekly break from coursework to enjoy tasty local food. These dinners serve as a mainstay for many graduate students at SPIA. In addition, we arrange training sessions and workshops on DEI topics which focus on student-defined areas of interest. We often partner with other student-led organizations and/or student resource centers at Princeton University to connect students with vital community resources across our campus. 

This year, for example, we hosted workshops on Imposter Syndrome, led by Susan Kim from Princeton’s Counseling & Psychological Services, and a Bystander Intervention training provided by Princeton's UMatter, a student-led organization focused on reducing harm on campus. We are a voice for students on DEI issues, advocating to the SPIA administration on behalf of both individual and group concerns that are brought to our attention. We also serve on DEI Advisory Group Committees to progress DEI-related interests in curriculum and faculty engagement, and co-curricular initiatives at SPIA. 


It was a full house at a November 2022 DEI Dinner focused on “Decolonizing International Development,” hosted on campus at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality + Cultural Understanding.  


The SPIA Student Experience 

The weekly DEI dinners have been a great way to get to know students from different cohorts and parts of SPIA outside of the classroom. You know you will always find friendly faces, good conversation and a warm welcome – and you’ll probably learn something too.Amanda Stark, MPP ’23

It has been impactful to be able to bring my racial equity expertise to SPIA and apply my skills in a graduate school setting. Doing this important work has reminded me of what is important in policy crafting and the potential avenues to continue this work post-graduation.Sergio Rodriguez Camarena, MPA ’24

Being a DEI rep has helped me further explore my interest in global justice and create spaces for other students and faculty to discuss about it. It has not only been a way to contribute to my SPIA community but also build the policy profile I want for myself after graduate school.”  Paco García Bellego, MPA ’23

Being able to infuse my passion for LGBTQ+ policy with my extracurricular involvement through my role on the DEI Representatives team has been the highlight of my SPIA journey. The weekly DEI Dinners have been an integral, consistent source of community and belonging for me on campus, while providing me with the space to explore potential career paths at the intersection of DEI advocacy and international relations for after graduation.Ryan Sasse, MPA ’23

As a DEI Rep, I have been able to interact with a wider variety of individuals across the cohorts and elevate the voices of my peers through focus groups with administrators. It has been a privilege to serve in this capacity and create more inclusive and safe spaces at SPIA.Avery Barnett, PhD ’26


In Spring 2022, the SPIA DEI Representatives team was honored with a Best of Access, Diversity, and Inclusion (BADI) Award by Princeton’s Graduate School’s Office of Access, Diversity, and Inclusion. Read more about the honorees here.