New Affirmative Action Director has social justice in her genes
During World War II, Tracey Tsugawa’s parents and grandparents were incarcerated in U.S. internment camps, and it caused a streak of strong political consciousness in her family.
Now, Tsugawa will bring that sense of social justice to the University of Oregon as the new Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.
Tsugawa has an extensive resume with experience in education and civil rights. This includes 15 years as a civil rights investigator, consulting for various community-based organizations and instructing at the undergraduate and graduate level. She credits her mother for the inspiration to get into this line of work.
“She was a force of nature… She had a very strong political and social consciousness that I heard about from day one as a child,” Tsugawa said. “It was because of her that I started asking questions about why the world is the way it is.”
Tsugawa is finishing her job as Title IX Officer at UC Santa Cruz. She will start remotely at the AAEO office on Oct. 1 and is expected to arrive on campus by mid-October.
Throughout high school and while studying at Oberlin College in Ohio, Tsugawa questioned the way things were in the world and thought about what she could do to change them.
“By the time I graduated, I had settled on education as a means for social change,” Tsugawa said. “That really sort of set me on the path…I fell in love with teaching.”
Tsugawa got into higher education but also focused on community-based education. This led her to the variety of work exhibited on her resume.
“It’s much more than a job. I feel like it’s a calling for me,” Tsugawa said. “I feel a responsibility to make the world a better place for everyone.”
Tsugawa is excited about the opportunities she will have at UO and new challenges she will face.
“[I want to] make sure that we have a campus that is as free as possible from forms of harassment and discrimination, and cultivate a campus that is truly inclusive and welcoming for everyone…” Tsugawa said. “I’m totally excited about coming to Oregon – totally excited about becoming a Duck.”
Tsugawa mentioned two overarching goals for the AAEO office. One is providing prevention education and training for office staff on how to address interpersonal conflict. The other is making processes more transparent so people know what their options are. She also emphasized the importance of protecting people instead of the university.
“Our job is to protect the students, staff and faculty of the campus, not to protect the university…We need to be independent and autonomous to a degree so that we can protect people.”
Tsugawa is excited for the prospects of her new job, including the possibility of being able to teach again, something that was not an option at UC Santa Cruz.
“I would love to get back in the classroom and teach environmental justice if possible,” Tsugawa said. “But my primary responsibility coming in this fall is to work on developing the office, so I can’t imagine that I will have time to consider teaching during my first year. But if that ever becomes a possibility at the University of Oregon, I would love to get back into the classroom.”