Diversity week ‘breaks bobcat boundaries’

By on September 18, 2014

Diversity Week at the university is currently in full swing. The event started Sept. 15 and will end on Sept. 19.

“It is an entire week where we look at multiple identities and it is a way for students to experience different identities that are different from their own,” Assistant Director of First-Year Residential Experience (FYRE) Matthew Gregory said.

This event was started three years ago to involve and inform students about campus diversity. Among what is referred to as diversity includes race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religion and orientation.

“The Department has a focus on inclusion, and thats one of the reasons why we do this week,” Gregory said. “Specifically, our goal is to create a sense of belonging in a diverse environment.”

Throughout the week, various programming has been going on in support of the event.

On Monday, the week started with the This is Me Campaign, where shirts were handed out to students. The students could write what they would identify themselves as in the blank space on the shirt. Students could also make a video in order to help define their own identity or encourage others to embrace theirs.

On Tuesday, the Student Center showcased the Tunnel of Oppression. Skits were acted out and papers were placed on walls showing what Gregory calls “negative messages” about various groups.

The event was referred to as a “challenge by choice.” It was intended to give a window into other groups’ negative experiences. Afterward, participants talked to staff from Counseling, Residential Life and the Office of Multicultural and Global Education (OMGE) in order to reflect on their experiences and to learn what they can do to help others.

“It will allow them to not only show off their own identity but to experience others in different ways,” Gregory said.

There will be a NOH8 Campaign inspired event in support of marriage equality Wednesday, followed by the Love Me Campaign at York Hill on Thursday. The campaign is working to support positive body image. And on Friday, students can tune into a podcast party to recap the week’s events.

“Each student on this campus adds diversity, the hard part is helping students understand what form of diversity they bring,” Gregory said. “Students can perceive diversity in many different ways, which is why our week long event focuses on multiple intersections of diversity and inclusion to show the amount of diversity across campus.”

Students, like freshman Kristina Gustafson, seem enthusiastic about this week.

“Maybe it’ll change my viewpoint on things if I’m in someone else’s shoes,” Gustafson said.

Although the event has been going on for a few years now, some sophomores and upperclassmen did not even know what Diversity week is. Some students suggested there is a lack of interest from students.

“I feel that there’s not enough awareness of certain weeks and events,” sophomore Talia Fiorentino said. “Whoever facilitates Diversity Week should probably do a better job of putting (sic) a campaign for it.”

Gregory says they try to publicize in the areas where most students are reached and when students can attend them. They tried to hold events in the Student Center rather than just the residential halls and have at least one event on the York Hill campus

But some students question the usefulness of Diversity Week.

“I think it’s pointless because there’s not a lot of diversity here anyways,” junior Laura Marketta said.

Residential Assistants and Community Assistants are trained to encourage their residents to keep an open mind, according to Gregory. They are trained to teach their residents about being involved and “creating a safe and inclusive environment in their floor, building, and across QU.”

According to the Quinnipiac website, 78 percent of the Class of 2018 is white, 8 percent Hispanic, 4 percent African American, 3 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, three-tenths percent Native American and 1 percent multiracial. Six percent did not specify.

However, senior Helen Henglein believes diversity is about more than what you can see.

“I think a lot of people at Quinnipiac judge by looks and make a general statement of who they are based off their appearance,” she said

Despite this, some students think Diversity Week will have a positive impact.

“Hopefully it sparks others to make a difference,” freshman John Corea said.

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About Matt Grahn

Staff Writer, Journalism Major, Political Science Minor