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Group increases awareness of differences

Mandi Stirone | Thursday, December 11, 2008

The goal of the Student Diversity Board (SDB) is to help Saint Mary’s students and the surrounding community be more aware of diversity, SDB president Adriana Rodriguez said.

She hopes that students will “be more aware that [they’re] not just living in a bubble.”

“Everyone’s unique,” she said, and people “should be taking that into consideration.”

Making students aware of diversity is a big challenge, seeing as many are unaware of what diversity actually is.

“Diversity is pretty much everything,” Rodriguez said. “It takes into account demographics, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious differences, diversity of opinions, ideas, beliefs and thoughts,” she said.

The Board has held events to represent the diversity on campus. So far they have had the SDB Bonfire in October and the Hunger Banquet in November, Rodriguez said.

The Bonfire showcased multicultural performances including Irish Dance, Ballet Folklorico, a student performing traditional Chinese dancing and Mariachi ND, among other performers. Students in attendance were treated to s’mores and the performances, which were on a stage set up on the Saint Mary’s soccer field near the fire, she said.

At the Hunger Banquet, attendees were given a taste of what it felt like to be a lower, middle or upper class person according to world demographics, Rodriguez said.

“The set up is what makes it different,” she said.

Attendees were given a ticket assigning them to one of the three classes and their seat, meal and overall experience at the banquet was defined by that ticket, she said. The point of the event is to help participants to “go beyond the U.S. mentality,” Rodriguez said.

Last week, the board also hosted the Sugar Around the World event, where students were treated to desserts from around the world. Clubs like LaFuerza, Al-Zahra and the Around the World club provided recipes for sweets and then Sodexho provided them for students to sample, she said.

Next semester, the board has Disabilities Awareness Week and Women’s Appreciation Week, both to be held in February, Rodriguez said.

Women’s Appreciation Week, which was a new event last year, will be chaired by the Women’s Issues representative on SDB, Natalie Bui and co-chair, Leslie Lau, Rodriguez said. Disabilities Awareness Week will be chaired by the representative for Students with Disabilities, Arali Bautista and co-chair Danae Jimenez, Rodriguez said.

Both of these precede the SDB’s biggest event, the Diverse Student’s Leadership Conference, she said.

Planning for this event has been going on all year. Vice president of SDB, Sarah Barnes, is in charge of the DSLC and heads a small committee that meets every other week, Rodriguez said.

“I know that they’ve contacted different speakers for the opening and closing ceremonies,” she said.

They already have all the presenters for the workshops, she said, and are still looking for a keynote speaker.

There is also an “overflow of people willing to participate,” so she’s “happy not to have to worry about that this year,” she said.


The First Year Board has yet to hold any events yet this year, but they are doing a lot of fundraisers First Year Board president Nicole Gans said.

The Board is selling mini Christmas stockings with candy for students to send to their friends on campus as well as “Class of 2012” baseball shirts and sweatpants, she said.

“Right now, we’re just trying to raise money,” Gans said.

Gans said she hopes the money from these fundraisers can go towards a service project for the freshman class, she said.

She is hoping to include any first year students who are interested and the money will go towards transportation to and from the service project, she said.