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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Jamele Adams

Published: December 9, 2005
Section: News

When Jamele Adams is in a room, you know it.

After only three months at Brandeis as Assistant Dean of Student Life in Support of Diversity, Adams is already everywhere. This is because, as he says, you cant just have an open door policy, you have to go to where people are. He accomplishes this by doing various hall programs to encourage diversity, performing his spoken word poetry around campus, and hosting major campus-wide events.

At Shapiro 3s hall program in the Shapiro Lounge, he sits next to the CAs waiting for everyone to arrive. He looks like another student, with his backwards baseball cap and his track jacket.

When everyone has trickled in, he stands up, and asks everyone to follow suit. He announces in his booming voice that hes going to start a game of Simon Says, and claims that he can get everyone out in four simple moves. Its not often that college students are excited about childish games, but his tone, like that of a rapper in concert, motivates the students to stand and participate. And they all do get out on the fourth move except for the CAs who have played this game with him before.
This establishes a trust between his audience and himself, and provides a segue for the next game, Cool or Not Cool. The purpose of this game, he says, is to push buttons and make the students think about each others diverse opinions. His job is to promote diversity on campus.

Diversity is an essential ingredient in the educational experience, he says. He encourages the student body and the university as a whole to have a simple understanding of other things besides ourselves.

Adams has a lot of experience with the topic of diversity. After growing up in Harlem with his mother, he attended Penn State and received his BA in Psychology. He received his masters in higher education from Bowling Green State, and moved on to work at numerous universities in positions having to do with minorities, multiculturalism, and residence life. Before coming to Brandeis, he was the director for the Turn 2 Foundation in the Jeters Leaders Program, acting as a social change agent, he says.

I plan to retire from higher education at Brandeis, he says. He wants to stay here for 25 more years and eventually reach the level where his position can grow.
He chose to come to Brandeis because its an ideal institution to complete and blossom as a higher education professional due to its size, prestige, and influence, he says.

He has a passion for students and their development, he says. I wouldnt be happy doing anything else.

Alana Moses, '08, a Psychology major says, He adds needed energy to the administration.

Adams is easily approachable but hes also not scared of doing the approaching himself.

Coming as someone whos involved with STAND [Student Taking Action Now: Darfur] hes been really helpful with STAND, says Shulamit Eisen, '08, Publicity Director of STAND and an International and Global Studies major. He contacted us, he came up to someone in STAND and said, I want to get involved, let me know if I can help you in any way.

He helped by performing a spoken word piece about the genocide at the Darfur Fast Rally in Boston. It was so popular that he performed an encore at Dinner for Darfur and offered to send copies to anyone who wanted one.

Spoken word poetry, he says, crosses all areas political and comical and that is why it is his favorite form of communication.

At the Shapiro Hall program, before he leaves, he asks if the students would like to hear a poem, and they all excitedly sit back down in a semi-circle on the floor.
Adams is completely at ease as he begins his piece. He says about his talent, It found me.

He throws his body into the poem, gesticulating and yelling and the passion he feels surges and is thrown into the audience. They all sit up a little straighter as the poem progresses. He recites the last line, Write, in a stage whisper, turns his cap to the front and smiles proudly.