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Racism, sexism addressed in second SMC identity forum

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Saint Mary’s Board of Governance sponsored a second Identity Forum Tuesday evening in Regina Hall in hopes of determining what a Saint Mary’s woman really is.The forum turned out to be an intimate meeting of minds as 11 BOG members and students met to discuss such issues as racism, sexism and the definition of the Saint Mary’s student.Katie Kelly, BOG Women’s Issues commissioner, organized the event.”I think it was very successful at this point with the dynamics of the issues on campus,” Kelly said. “Having a targeted group and being able to speak candidly about the issues of the shirt and diversity, and how our student body understands these issues [is important to] how the student body can implement ideas in the future to be more proactive and implement change on campus.”The shirt, sold during Pride Week earlier in the semester, has spurred protest on campus. Kelly said the forums are meant to facilitate better student understanding “of what the protesters were trying to say and SAB’s response.””The SAB members did not intend [the shirt] to be racist or sexist or classist,” she said. “At the same time people who are thinking more critically on the shirt and seeing how critically it would be a negative representation [is a good thing].”First-year student Alexandria Zakrzewski attended the forum in an effort to “find out about what the feelings are on the image of Saint Mary’s.””I hadn’t gone to the first one, so coming to the second I was looking to find an image that could be used when I go out, go home or visit new places,’ she said. “People will say, ‘What is Saint Mary’s,’ and I want to be able to answer.”Zakrzewski said she felt the forum was very successful, and hopes that it will help the student body work through problems such as sexism, racism and class issues.”I think that it will help us find a more structured way of working through problems and issues on campus,” she said.Kelly agreed the dialogue was a success, and said several suggestions for student government actions to eliminate such problems will be taken into consideration. Two responses likely to be implemented were a newsletter written in conjunction by the core group members and concerned students and diversity training. Kelly also said it has not yet been discussed whether this training will be campus-wide, for all student leaders or just for student government. Both suggestions will be discussed further at upcoming BOG meetings.”My goal as the Women’s Issues commissioner is to help facilitate these discussions because the issues of diversity have faced our campus for a long time, and I feel that the shirt aided in bringing the discussion to light,” Kelly said. “We need to look at the next semester and see how we’re going to move forward.”

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