Unity RLC hosts event to tackle diversity and inclusion issues
The Santa Clara
February 21, 2019
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, Unity Residential Learning Community hosted an original event called “Dear SCU.”
The flyer advertised an open dialogue that would “focus on having an honest conversation around inclusivity” within the Santa Clara community.
The event name was inspired by “Dear White People,” a Netflix-original series that follows black college students at a primarily white college and focuses on race issues.
The event was run by Community Facilitators (CF) in McLaughlin-Walsh Residence Hall, but was open to the entire campus.
About 20 people attended, including administration like Raymond Plaza, the director of the Diversity and Inclusion Office.
The program was split into three sections, with the first part led by sophomore CF Faizah Shyanguya.
She explained that the CFs had asked residents of Unity to respond to a survey about diversity.
The survey asked questions such as what belonging on campus looks like, and one anonymous survey respondent had negative feedback that was considered disappointing to the Residence Life staff.
“[Belonging on campus looks like] having a community where all aspects of identity can be validated,” the response said. “Unfortunately the reality is that we have to craft these spaces, or make them for ourselves.”
When asked about safety, another respondent said their experiences with campus inclusivity were few and far between.
“There are some spaces such as the Multicultural Center that make me feel more comfortable,” the respondent said. “But I never really feel safe in any space.”
The survey then asked respondents to share experiences of injustice on campus.
The response list ranged from peers using derogatory language, sexual harassment and racial hostility in classrooms and dorms.
During the second portion of the event, attendees were split into several small discussion groups.
Each group was facilitated by a CF, who posed questions to participants about race relations on campus.
The questions prompted students to reflect on what a diverse campus means to them and how diversity is represented at Santa Clara.
Students were also invited to share stories of experiences with diversity and microaggressions on campus.
In the final third of the event, participants reconvened for a large group discussion where diversity on campus was discussed among everyone.
Students again were invited to share their concerns regarding acts of discrimination and issues around diversity, their feelings about how the university administration has handled previous incidents overall and what they should focus on to improve.
Troubling incidents in the past were discussed, including the two first-year boys who drew a swastika on an elevator in Casa Italiana Residence Hall in 2016.
That same academic year an art installment memorializing 43 kidnapped Mexican students was vandalized.
Additionally, the ongoing problem of female students experiencing sexual harassment in the library was brought up.
Junior Ellie Lewis attended “Dear SCU” and had several thoughts on the event.
“My favorite Unity events tend to be inclusive, and I enjoy having resident professors there,” Lewis said. “It is inspiring to see how passionate CFs leading the discussions are. I do, however, wish that there was more of a self-sustained culture of looking out for other Broncos rather than us having to have these safe spaces.”
Contact Sasha Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.