SMU students enjoyed insightful conversations about diversity and inclusion with friends and strangers during Diversity and Inclusion Week at the Flagpole.
“I’m really excited with the turnout so far,” Senate Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair Naomi Samuel said. “It’s been cool to see people who’ve known each other for a long time and people who maybe don’t know each other at all get to talk about these things.”
The Diversity and Inclusion Committee set up a table at the Flagpole from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday this week and encouraged passerby students to have stimulating conversations with each other. Slips of paper with questions relating to race, religion, sexuality, or gender were used to guide students’ conversations.
Those who participated walked away with insights from their conversations and a new T-shirt that reads, “I like my school inclusive.”
Participating students were happy with the impact Diversity and Inclusion Week has on the campus community.
“I think [Diversity and Inclusion Week] is really good because it opens up everybody’s perspective,” freshman Jen Carballo said. “It kinda lets [students] step out of their comfort zone and try to explore stuff they wouldn’t explore on a daily basis.”
“These are heavy topics for a lot of people,” junior Raul Cosentino said. He thinks that Diversity and Inclusion week is “a good place to start a conversation.”
According to Samuel, even prospective SMU students and parents visiting got a chance to participate and learn more about SMU’s cultural environment.
Samuel said some of these prospective students and parents were concerned they wouldn’t find such a welcoming community at SMU, but seeing the Diversity and Inclusion event was a positive reassurance for them.
“It’s been really interesting to see prospective parents see this and get excited,” Samuel said. “I think it’s dispelled some misconceptions about SMU for the most part.”
Diversity and Inclusion Week is an annual SMU event. In the past, the event has been more structured in the sense that the committee brought speakers and monitored conversations more closely. However, according to Samuel, this year’s Diversity and Inclusion Week is intended to be more “organic” and “comfortable”.
The Diversity and Inclusion Committee also created an Instagram account (@smuspeaks) earlier this year to promote Diversity and Inclusion week and provide a safe platform through which students can anonymously share their unique diversity experiences.
Diversity and Inclusion Week extends from Monday to Thursday, with each day having a designated topic of discussion: race, religion, sexuality, and gender, respectively. The Feminist Equality Movement and Spectrum partners will be in attendance during Wednesday and Thursday to facilitate the discussion on gender and sexuality.
Those who wish to join the conversation can stop by the Flagpole on Wednesday, April 3 and Thursday, April 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and get a free T-shirt in the process.