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UISG: Promote diversity on campus

BY GUEST OPINION | MARCH 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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UISG held its first diversity summit on March 25 in an attempt to address diversity issues pertaining to students at the University of Iowa.

It was organized by students, for students, to ensure that the tone and the right environment were set. Participants could freely and openly discuss issues of diversity on campus and ways in which student government and the UI can further promote a welcoming, diverse environment.

Students used this time to address problems and to ask themselves, their organizations, and UISG what they could do better to promote diversity on our campus.

We had a great turnout, and students really came ready and prepared to voice their concerns. We tackled issues concerning international student involvement, growing student organizations and encouraging retention, the need for better promotion of multicultural organizations, and increasing awareness and respect for diversity on campus.

UISG wants to focus on a couple projects to continue the success of the diversity summit. One of the biggest things we will do is work on a diversity campaign that challenges students to stretch and go outside of their comfort zone to learn about other cultures.

We all feel as if the conversations we had were steps in the right direction to not only improve UISG, but to improve diversity on campus as a whole. The responses that we have received from the students who participated in the Diversity Summit have been nothing short of enthusiasm and eagerness to work on university-wide efforts to continue promoting the inclusion and celebration of all cultures and backgrounds.

The "Get to Know Me" campaign focuses on getting to know an individual for all the reasons that make her or him great, not just a stereotype. It is also about not letting stereotypes prevent relationships. UISG also wants to participate and help encourage other student leaders to be involved in a buddy program. This program would help facilitate relationships with international students and student leaders.

This summit provided students and UISG with a foundation built from actual students' ideas and opinions that will empower us all in the process of making UI's campus more diverse and inclusive. When we say diverse, we mean diversity in all forms of the word; ethnicity, socioeconomic status, class, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.

UISG will share some of the details and responses from the Diversity Summit with the UI administration in hope that the voices of students can be heard and more steps can be taken to ensure that the UI continues the tradition of being a safe and welcoming environment. Diversity is an ever-changing issue. We need consistent student input to help keep us stay on the right path to success.

Anthony Ferguson Jr.
UISG Diversity Committee head


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