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Saint Mary’s Student Diversity Board reflects on fall semester, looks forward to future events

| Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Student Diversity Board (SDB) at Saint Mary’s has a busy spring semester ahead of it, all culminating in its biggest event of the year — the annual diversity conference.

The conference, originally called the Diverse Student Leadership Conference, will now be called the Diversity and Leadership Conference, SDB vice president and senior Megan Uekert said.

(Editor’s note: Megan Uekert is a former News writer for The Observer.)

“We are trying to make it more student-friendly this year with both workshops and keynote speakers,” she said.

Uekert said the specific workshops and speakers cannot be released yet, but planning is going well. In addition to the conference, she said, SDB will also host a screening of the historical film “Selma” this semester.

“‘[Selma]’ puts an emotional and strong emphasis on black history month, and it is always important to remember the struggles and endurance of those who fought for civil rights before us,” Uekert said.

SDB also celebrated Valentine’s Day with a “Love is Love” table event Tuesday to show that love comes in all forms, SDB president and senior Victoria Ernsberger said.

“[SDB] and the Gay Straight Alliance wanted to advocate for and celebrate all different types of love,” she said.

Uekert said the goal was to support the LGBTQ community at Saint Mary’s. A sign prompted students to write down who they love, and students wrote down everyone from parents to roommates, Ernsberger said.

While the group hosted a large number of events last semester, Uekert said the group hopes to increase the attendance at events this spring.

Last semester, SDB held its annual Hunger Banquet, an event to raise awareness and understanding for food insecurity and poverty. This year, the event was also a partnership with the Office of Civic and Social Engagement for Food Justice Week, which Ernsberger said was her favorite event last semester.

“The Hunger Banquet is usually held in November, which is a great time before the holidays to really reflect on how fortunate we all are and, hopefully, to be inspired to give back and make a difference in our community,” she said.

Ernsberger said she hopes to see open-mindedness in SDB’s upcoming leadership team in the 2018-2019 school year after she graduates.

“Diversity comes in all shapes and sizes, and I believe that it is important to remember that and showcase that throughout our programming,” she said.

Uekert said she hopes SDB’s future leaders continue to involve the South Bend community, offering words of wisdom for them.

“Plan ahead and reach out into the community,” she added.

SDB sets goals each semester, Ernsberger said. While these goals typically include specifics such as planning more events, raising awareness for issues on campus or creating an inclusive environment, Ernsberger said the most important goal to her is making a difference.

“Honestly, I believe that as long as we reach at least one student, we have met our goal,” she said. “If our events and programming make just one student at Saint Mary’s feel included and valued, that’s exactly what we want.”

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