In the Canopy: Rodney Dean, President Critical Issue and Awareness Opportunity Group, National Society of Minorities in Hospitality


Posted Thu, Oct 25, 2012

Power Play: Rodney Dean serves as president of both the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality & The Critical Issue & Awareness Opportunity Group. [Photo by Stephen Young]

DENVER, Auraria, Campus — The Senate Finance & Personnel Committee of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Student Government Assembly recently rejected a request for $500 in research money made by the student organization Critical Issue and Awareness Opportunity group. CIAO’s President Rodney Dean spearheaded the request. CIAO, which cites “highlighting the abilities of Mechanically Assisted and Physically Encumbered People (MAPEP), through doing the things that can be done” as its motto and goal, intended to use the funds for research regarding accessibility on Auraria campus.

“That was a big hit for us,” says Dean, host of CIAO Radio on “We don’t have to win all of the battles, but right now we’re 0-13…ehh, 1-12, which is great. There is not a senator, there is not a trustee, there is not a SACAB representative who does not know our issue.” adds Dean, ever the optimist. The Student Advisory Committee to the Auraria Board (SACAB) is made up of elected student officials from Metro, the Community College of Denver and The University of Colorado at Denver. Dean was also recently elected President of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality. The NSMH is a national student-run organization that seeks to recruit, support and advance minority students in the hospitality industry.

One of Dean’s efforts as the new president of NSMH is to redefine minority as those who strive for excellence. As Dean puts it, “We can marginalize ourselves if we just think about mechanically assisted people or minorities. I don’t care about equality or fairness. I care about opportunity.”

Between passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 and changes made to it by the ADA Amendments act of 2008, The US has tried to make strides for MAPEP. The National Voter Registration act of 1993 sought “to increase the historically low registration rates of minorities and persons with disabilities that have resulted from discrimination,” says the ADA’s website. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 required that telecommunications equipment and services “are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, if readily achievable.” The immediacy of disability issues has not always been the impetus, rather the immediacy of possible solutions.

The CIAO Logo. [Designed by Andre Matveyer]

“It’s not immediacy we’re looking for,” says Dean. “We don’t want to be the flash in the pan. We want to be the group that has a firm foundation and foothold in accessibility issues.”

Every person who knows Dean from his work describes him as ambitious. “He’s crazily ambitious,” says CIAO treasurer and financial manager Andrew Dubois. The radio show is “a way to blow off some steam at the beginning of the week. There have been some big obstacles and some little obstacles. He will figure it out.”

Though now a part of Metro State Student Media, CIAO began as the “Echo Radio Show,” an arm of the SGA newsletter. The name was changed three semesters ago to CIAO.

“This started as a whim and when we started, we were less than professional,” Dean says. The show was about the music until I started talking. The radio show is our playtime because most of the time, I’m politicking,”

“Rodney’s the furthest thing from shy” and doesn’t bite his tongue, says KMet Radio athletic producer Justin Taylor. Taylor also helps with production of CIAO radio. “He’s bumped heads with people over things, but he’s a good enough talker to get through it. He’s self-aware.”

“The best thing people can do is mind their business,” says Dean, a self-described “libertarian, get off my property kind of guy.” By no means does Dean mean “don’t inquire.” He believes people should do the things they are good at.

As a self-aware man, Dean says, changing his life is what brought him to where he is today at Metro State. He was born and raised in Denver and graduated from George Washington High School in 1985. Dean has come from early struggles in life with addiction to his goals with CIAO, which include “putting 17-25 MAPEP people in the canopy of the rainforest of the Dominican Republic−wherever we can get into the trees,” Dean says.

The CIAO Crew: (From right) Rodney Dean, KMet Radio producers Justin Taylor & Laura Jordan, and CIAO Vice-President David Klingensmith. [Photo by Stephen Young]

“I’m glad I’m here for this,” says CIAO Vice-President Dave Klingensmith, who is also co-host of CIAO Radio. Klingensmith, who met Dean at a meeting of the Senate Student Voice Committee, is the face of the CIAO Radio experience. Every Wednesday from 1-4 p.m. outside the Plaza Building, Klingensmith has students attempt to use wheelchairs provided by the Plaza Health Center.

Wanting to know his cause, Dean has used a wheelchair on multiple occasions. “I ran into the ankles of my friends,” Dean says. “They apologized to me and didn’t even look me in the eye. They did not know who I was.”

However, it is clear that Auraria is getting to know who Rodney Dean is.

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About Stephen Young

Stephen Young is currently a student studying writing at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. He believes that writing is torture, but still does it for some reason.

View all posts by Stephen Young

One Response to “In the Canopy: Rodney Dean, President Critical Issue and Awareness Opportunity Group, National Society of Minorities in Hospitality”

  1. Antointte Says:

    Great story Stephen, your words flowed and it was easy for the reader to folloe. Also it was very infomative information and the readers will leave this article with a great source of inforamtion.


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