Diversity Council welcome
Diversity Council | Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Dear students, faculty and other members of our community,
Like several before us, Diversity Council would like to take the opportunity of a new school year to extend a warm welcome to all, both those new and returning. Every August presents a time for renewal and, as you finish your second week of classes, we hope that you can join us in recommitting to a year of inclusion, allyship and intersectionality together with all of those in communion with us.
Many of you, especially the first years, may not know what Diversity Council is, or know of the work we do. Diversity Council is a body of representatives from numerous cultural clubs and underrepresented groups on campus; our diversity includes — but is not limited to — race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation. We serve as a voice (although not the only one!) for marginalized students, and we often act as a focus group for issues that our members may have a special perspective on, such as the housing policy change, Walk the Walk Week or general campus climate. Diversity Council holds seats in several other capacities, including Student Senate and the Campus Life Council, and these positions are crucial as diverse students are critically absent from Notre Dame student leadership, even considering the poor numbers on diversity that we already have.
Despite our presence in various organizations, Diversity Council is still relatively unknown on campus and, for that, we take responsibility. Although our mission is to represent and empower those who lack a voice or platform at Notre Dame, we have not taken a strong enough stance in recent years to advocate for necessary change in our community. Thus, like we have invited you to do, Diversity Council will be taking advantage of this new school year to reaffirm our commitment to the student body. To this end, we will be working on several projects that we hope you will support in order to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment.
Our first round of projects is simply an initial step, and as Diversity Council gains momentum, we anticipate crafting new ideas based on your feedback and suggestions. For now, however, we will begin with a few enterprises. One goal is to organize communication with the multicultural commissioners in each hall, and ensure that they are equipped with the resources and information they need to foster a positive residential life for everyone. A second committee will work on connecting clubs within Diversity Council and increasing their involvement with each other. The hope is to raise interest, support and ultimately develop meaningful relationships for a stronger, more collaborative diversity community. Simultaneously, a third project will work to improve SpeakUp, which is Notre Dame’s online reporting system to report concerns of discrimination, harassment, sexual assault and other issues. By increasing awareness about this resource and making it more user-friendly, we hope SpeakUp will help our campus grow more inclusive and welcoming.
If you are interested in discussing these projects, our future plans or project proposals of your own, we highly encourage you to contact us, and we would love to work with anyone on campus committed to creating a better community for all. Additionally, we would like to emphasize to both students and faculty that Diversity Council is a tool and a resource for Notre Dame, so we ask that you make use of us. There are oftentimes classes or groups that discuss how to assist communities in need, but they do so without the input of the demographic in question. In order to give others the platform they deserve, please reach out to us or our affiliate organizations to arrange a student speaker, workshop or anything else that would enrich understanding and communication. In true Notre Dame spirit, let us seek to ‘work with,’ rather than ‘work for,’ each other.
Finally, we would like to conclude by stating that the students whom Diversity Council represents cannot be simply classified and set aside as ‘diverse students.’ We are all equally Notre Dame students, and most importantly, we are all equally human beings. All human beings, regardless of presumed success, education, ethnicity or legal status, deserve the utmost dignity and respect. We pray that we, as a community, can keep that dignity and respect in mind as we move forward through the school year. As we are called to do, let us act with love, generosity and truth to all as valued members of Notre Dame family.
The Diversity Council Executive Board
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.