Movement prompts discussion of diversity
By KATIE MCCARTY | Wednesday, March 27, 2013
The meeting, titled, “Call to Action II: Will You Answer?” continued conversations begun at last year’s initial town hall meeting, Emerald Woodberry, president of the Black Student Association (BSA) said.
Woodberry and Chinelo Onyeador, president of the African Students Association (ASA) serve as co-chairs of the policy committee for the Call to Action movement. Onyeador and Woodberry said they have created a platform aimed at increasing diversity on campus, with goals ranging from instituting mandatory hall staff diversity training with a national discrimination expert to requiring a spirit of inclusion clause to be articulated on all syllabi for courses throughout the University.
The Call to Action movement grew in response to the town hall meeting held March 4th, 2012 where the Notre Dame community shared stories of discrimination experienced on campus.
This town hall meeting was organized in response to discriminatory incidents of which the campus community was informed in a Feb. 24, 2012 email. Pieces of fried chicken were put in the BSA and ASA mailboxes, which motivated the leaders of both clubs to spearhead the creation of the incipient movement.
Student body vice president Katie Rose said student government has worked closely with the Call to Action movement.
“We need to recognize each student as an individual,” Rose said. “We have all been on the fringe and we have all felt marginalized. We seek reform because we genuinely care about the students next to us in class, the people in our dorms.”
Hugh Page, dean of the First Year of Studies, said his office has developed efforts attempting to develop a spirit of inclusion for freshmen from the moment they first arrive on campus. These initiatives include the implementation of a new one-credit course aimed at increasing awareness of diversity, Page said.
“We have formulated a strategic plan of diversity in the First Year of Studies,” Page said. “Indeed, one of the twelve items on the ‘Dean’s A-list’ is ‘Take advantage of opportunities to encourage cultural competency.”
Keri Kei Shibata, assistant chief of safety services of the Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) said her department has taken measures to increase awareness of discrimination and cultural differences among its staff.
“Since last year’s Call to Action, we have had a number of meetings with various student leaders, participated in an [inter-race] forum, what police are allowed to do in a situation and what your rights are when you interact with the police,” Shibata said.
Onyeador and Woodberry collaborated with student government to share a video of speakers from last year’s town hall meeting. Students at Wednesday’s meeting were asked to share experiences of discrimination on campus during the town hall meeting.
Alex Coccia, student body president-elect, said he would support the Call to Action movement during his term in office.
“We believe that any discriminatory actions or policies are intolerable and our duty is to make sure the dignity of each individual is respected,” Coccia.