Office of the Chancellor

Together We Are UCI: Anteater Equity Games build bonds in campus community

Together We Are UCI: Anteater Equity Games build bonds in campus community

May 13, 2015

What happens when 200 faculty, staff and students team up to solve an array of unique challenges in Aldrich Park? A whole lot of camaraderie and fun.

Now in its second year, the Anteater Equity Games bring together faculty, staff and students from across campus to solve several unique, fun challenges sponsored by UCI departments.

The games hosted May 5 were organized by the Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture & Inclusion, a group of dozens of faculty, staff and student representatives who work to foster respect, civility and mutual appreciation across the campus community.

The purpose of the games is to build and sustain an inclusive campus community by playing, learning and having fun together.

“We’ve found that sometimes students, faculty and staff don’t know where to go to get the right resources or voice their opinions,” said Daniel Wehrenfennig, co-vice chair of the Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture & Inclusion. “We want to make campus climate issues more tangible and make sure people can immediately find the resources they need.”

With that sentiment in mind, each challenge uses gamification to allow attendees to learn about valuable campus resources such as Disability Services, the Cross-Cultural Center, Veteran Services, Human Resources and the Office of Equal Opportunity & Diversity.

This year, activities included a blindfolded basketball free throw competition, rapid-fire LGBT trivia questions and unscrambling a timeline of UCI’s cultural diversity milestones. As teams made their way from challenge to challenge, they earned points. At the end of the games, the top three highest scoring teams received gold, silver and bronze medals.

Each team contained a mix of students, faculty and staff, allowing attendees to branch out and meet people with different backgrounds, skills and experiences. As the teams work together on each challenge, participants learn to appreciate each other for their various strengths.

“When you work together as a team, you are stronger than each individual,” said Lisa Winter, content coordinator for Strategic Communications.

Her team won the gold medal by being vocal, keeping track of time and tackling each task with enthusiasm, she said.

“The games are designed to take the UCI population, which is as large as a small town, and give people a chance to learn from each other regardless of their formal role as students, staff or faculty,” said Douglas Haynes, vice provost for academic equity, diversity & inclusion and organizer of the Anteater Equity Games. “Our ultimate goal is to create community by bringing people together to have fun. We really see the games as a new campus tradition.”

The idea for the games came after a recently University of California campus climate study showed that the system could do more to nurture a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. By bringing people together in team-building exercises, the hope is that the UCI community will become a more equitable environment where everyone can pursue their passions, feel valued and respected, and succeed in their goals, Haynes said.

“One of the great things about the Equity Games is that although you may not see your teammates again, you now have something in common with each person in addition to being at UCI. You have a shared experience of participating in this program.”

– Anna Iliff, Strategic Communications