Diversity and Inclusion a Major Focus for Student Leaders

On Saturday, September 10, representatives from every student organization gathered in the Ellison Campus Center to be equipped with the information and skills to make them the best student leaders they can be in hopes of making this a successful school year. The program began with an introduction, then went into breakout sessions for each different position. Every executive board involves varying concerns and roles, so different training for each position is key. After lunch, there were two breakout sessions. The day ended with ice cream and a discussion on diversity, which tied into the themes of the day.

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The “Preferred Name Policy” breakout session focused on a new development in University Law: the Preferred Name Policy. Students may have their name on the class roster, canvas, door decks, and more that they prefer to be called. Why would a student prefer another name? There are many reasons. Some of those presented by Julia Golden-Battle, Assistant Director and LGBTQ Liaison of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, included: gender identity, unsafe circumstances, and international students seeking to use their American name. Julia then delved into a discussion on gender identity and pronouns so that student leaders can set a progressive example for the students they lead on campus, as well as the campus community as a whole. Learn more about the preferred name policy here.

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Image courtesy of transstudent.org

To wrap up the day, we ended with diversity and some ice cream. Rebecca Comage, Director of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs introduced herself and what her office does. Through their professional, graduate, and undergraduate staff, they educate the greater university community about the different populations found here on campus and throughout the world.

According to the school website, the office…

“…strives to lead Salem State University in sustaining an active campus community that embraces difference, and values the significant contributions of all its members. Through examining the intersections of identity, our community is challenged to think critically about issues relevant to diversity and social justice. By creating strategies that support historically marginalized student populations in achieving their goals, we cultivate an environment where diversity, academic excellence, and holistic student success are inseparable.”

After a discussion on why this is key to the SSU community, the student groups discussed how they could involve more diversity in their programming, and why it’s important for them.

College is a big change, and an even bigger community. For some students, it’s a much bigger community than their high school. Joining a club or organization can help students find a group that they feel that they belong to within this vast environment. They can find their school of fish in the big ocean of college. The more inclusive said group is, the more students may feel that they belong. That’s why the emphasis on diversity during this student leadership training was so important.

How will you include diversity in your group’s programming? If you already do, how will you emphasize it more? Why do you think it’s important?

 

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