About OPAL

Mission Statement

OPAL's mission is to foster a Dartmouth where all students can thrive, value difference, and contribute to the creation of a socially just world.

Focus Areas for 2021 - 2022

The mission of OPAL is to foster a Dartmouth where all students can thrive, value difference, and contribute to a socially just world. We do this by providing student and organization advising, community building programs, leadership development programs, and institutional advocacy. This academic year, OPAL will focus on the following four areas, which we have identified as immediate needs for OPAL's work and the student community.

(Re)Building Community
Our community-building programs will focus on bringing student communities together, both in-person and virtually. Programming and support will highlight community spaces across campus, create supportive and accepting environments, and further develop an overall OPAL community.

Intentional Programming
We will approach programming from the intersection of all of OPAL's communities, creating high impact initiatives and increasing access to all advising areas. Student-informed decision making will be essential in creating intersectional spaces.

Student Support
We will continue to build support systems that address the health of students and communities, as these are central to OPAL's work. These systems will build upon each other and encourage holistic learning, thereby increasing their effectiveness and reach.

Staff Support
OPAL staff will develop practices that actively support flexibility and sustainable workloads, which will increase staff's capacity to be available and present for student needs.

Core Values

OPAL achieves its mission by centering the values, needs, strengths, and practices of marginalized communities and by approaching leadership, community development, and personal growth through the lens of social justice.

Community

We know what it is like to feel different and alone. We gather in fellowship as a way to support and uplift one another.

Authenticity

We respect the inherent dignity in all people. With empathy and compassion, we strive to be honest, to be ourselves, and to create spaces for others.

Intersectionality

Systematic injustices and social inequality are the result of interrelated and interlocking forms of oppression. We act and work in ways that honor the multiple dimensions of each person’s identity (dominant and marginalized) that intersect, influence one another, and compound to create unique experiences.

Personal Development

We believe that change is ongoing, lifelong work that begins within ourselves. We are committed to seeking out new experiences, perspectives, and knowledges.

Empowerment

We support individuals and communities in finding their power and becoming agents of social change.

Solidarity

We believe that forming coalitions and acting in solidarity with other groups makes us more powerful than when we act alone.

Major Priorities of Work

Advising and Engagement

In partnership with student organizations and campus partners, we create supportive systems for students in order to ensure a smooth and positive transition to Dartmouth, facilitate students’ identity development, and increase their awareness of and access to resources throughout their time on campus.

Community and Leadership Development

We work to create a respectful and inclusive Dartmouth by coordinating and facilitating programs that center the values, needs, strengths, and practices of marginalized communities and by approaching leadership development through the lens of social justice.

Education and Training

We conduct workshops and trainings for students to increase their knowledge and awareness of identity, power, and privilege and the impact these have on themselves, others and communities. We equip students with tools for communicating across difference, recognizing bias, and intervening in moments of harm.

Advocacy

We work across the institution to remove barriers and address needs related to ethnicity, gender identity or expression, nationality, race, sexuality, first gen identity, and socioeconomic status. We empower students to self-advocate by helping them identify needs and develop strategies to achieve their goals.

Leadership Development

In alignment with our mission, we are focused on increasing the capacity of students to contribute to a socially just world. OPAL’s approach to leadership is based upon five key principles: social change, individual leadership development, community leadership, coalition building, and experiential learning. We infuse these principles into all of our community development programs, including heritage/history months, mentorship trainings, and graduation celebrations.

In these programs, we provide various opportunities for peer mentors and/or student led committees to build the following capacities while gaining hands-on experience working with others: a greater understanding of one’s own identities, experiences, values, and strengths; knowledge of individual, interpersonal, and structural oppression; appreciation for the experiences and backgrounds of others; confidence to lead from one’s strengths and perspectives; and strategies for standing up for one’s beliefs and/or acting in solidarity with others.