Diversity forum held for students

Mark Dipaola

In an effort to educate the campus on the value of diversity and create an environment of acceptance and understanding, the Student Diversity Board held an interactive forum on Tuesday evening in Alumni Hall.

The program allowed students to explore race, religion, sexuality, and disabilities, the four main areas of diversity. The concept of diversity, SDB members said, does not only pertain to race, but an even broader range of issues.

The event, which began at 6:30, was not a lecture presentation. Although rows of chairs were assembled near the front of the room, the students, who were broken up into four groups, would spend most of the program’s duration rotating between four stations, engaging in discussions and activities. Each station represented a different area of diversity.

“If you have somebody who’s different than yourself, ask questions,” Senior SDB representative Thomas Fritz told a group of students at one table.

The forum also examined the use of various racial, homophobic, and sexist epithets, and the harmful and demeaning effects of such derogatory terms.

“These are words that should not be in our vocabulary,” said SDB Chairperson Victoria Lucas in an opening statement.

Students were asked to stand in front a mirror, which leaned against the front wall of the room above a poster that contained a slew of ethnic, sexist, anti-disabled, and homophobic slurs. Participants were asked to look in the mirror, and think about whether any of the words on the poster are ever used to describe them. According to Lucas, these terms have become a part of everyday conversation because people do not realize how offensive they are to those around them.

At one table, participants were exposed to the challenges that individuals with disabilities have to face every day. In one activity, students were blindfolded, while in another, participants were asked to open a jar while their hands were bound with duct tape, simulating the plight of amputees.

Other activities explored the issue of prejudice, stereotypes, and how people have a tendency to judge one another solely on appearance. In another corner students discussed how, despite an abundance of violent conflicts being waged over religion, different religious faiths actually share many qualities, such as the belief in one god, and a place to worship.

“There’s more people killed in the name of God than any cause in the world,” said Fritz.

SDB members also talked with students about bigotry and campus diversity in relation to the most recent racial incident in the Commons housing facility. Senior SDB cofounder Andrea Llin said that she helped launch the organization after attending a similar forum involving faculty and students. A racial incident that occurred in the dormitory that she was living in during her freshman year gave her impetus to attend. Llin, who is one of six founders, is currently in charge of public relations for SDB.

“That’s what pushed me to go to the forum, because I felt uncomfortable,” said Llin. “It wasn’t well known throughout campus.”

During each of her four years at Quinnipiac, she said, at least one racial incident has occurred.

“Different hate crimes have been committed but only recently has bit been brought up,” said Llin.

Students and faculty attendees reacted positively to the program, noting its educational value.

“I thought it was definitely very educational,” said sophomore Sam Crocker. “It was good to see a lot of the students here participating in these events.”

Sophomore Matt Pacheco said that the program changed his previous perspective on the concept of diversity.

“I thought it was very interesting and very informative,” he said “I learned that it’s not only based on race and religion, as I thought.”

Pacheco noted the forum’s relevance in light of recent racial incidents on campus.

“I think it’s disturbing, and I think things like that should not be occurring at Quinnipiac University,” he said. “And I think events like this will bring these racial slurs to an end.”

Director of Multicultural Affairs Tyrone Black, who attended the forum, also commented.

“This was excellent,” he said. “I like that they were able to hit areas that many people think about, but never encounter. I feel badly for those who weren’t able to be here.”