November 17, 2015
By Gabbi Fusco
There are students that walk the halls of Dominican feeling marginalized, misrepresented and unheard because of issues regarding diversity. These issues affect almost every aspect of their lives such as how they interact with other people, the opportunities available to them as well as how much they feel obligated to censor their emotions in public.
Dominican University is committed to addressing issues of diversity. The Residence Life Diversity Series events feature speakers and films that address different diversity issues to stimulate the community to discuss these topics.
Attendance to at least one of these events is mandatory for resident students, but there is also the incentive of increasing your chances in a randomly generated room selection lottery.
“The ideal outcome would be that every single resident would come to every single one of these events and learn something from it, but we can’t expect that from everyone,” said Rubi Tabar, diversity advocate.
Fellow diversity advocate Rachael Stewart said, “I’m glad that we bring people in with these different incentives, but for the last event [showing of documentary film I’m not a Racist] I saw that there were a lot of people on their phone throughout the whole film.”
Portia Anderson, residence hall director, said “It is discouraging and disheartening seeing some of the students not being there to educate themselves, be more conscious or even just to be an ally in the struggle that students face.”
There is an obvious disconnect between what is being discussed and how much the students internalize these issues.
“You don’t know how something is going to impact you unless you walk in with an open mind,” said Tabar. “We want the people that come to these events to learn something new and/or understood something on a deeper level.”
Another issue is the general attendance levels at the events. Students have other commitments like sports, night classes and work that may inhibit them from attending.
“It’s easy to get discouraged with all the empty seats at our events, especially since the Martin Recital Hall is such a small space,” said Justin Wheeler, diversity advocate. “But at the same time, you have to think about who isn’t coming, why and if they wish they could be here? We have to be thankful for those that are coming to listen to what we have to say.”
Residence Life is aware of the flaws concerning the events and offers solutions to address these problems. Diversity advocates design programs that RA’s must implement in their yearlong program requirements.
“This year, the diversity advocates have taken on the role of brainstorming supplemental programs,” said Stewart. “We give them to the resident life board and it’s then the RA’s choice of how to incorporate our supplemental programs into their social, diversity or service program requirements.”