Students, faculty come together for discussion about diversity at MU

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | 4:33 p.m. CST; updated 9:53 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 13, 2012

COLUMBIA — If you left college as the same person that you were when you arrived, you didn't do it right.

That was the consensus from attendees at the diversiME discussion Tuesday at the MU Women's Center. The event was part of One Mizzou Week, a week of diversity programming at MU.

About two dozen students gathered for the informal catered luncheon to discuss their experiences at MU. Many students said they have changed during their time on campus.

Questions were prompted by Greer Relphorde, president of the Legion of Black Collegians; Danny Poon, executive vice president for the Asian American Association and Alex Sanchez, treasurer of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization. Some of MU's faculty participated in the discussion, but the students led the conversation.

Topics discussed included:

  • defining inclusion and how to practice it 
  • adapting to living at MU
  • the benefits of adding a diversity course requirement to MU's curriculum
  • thoughts on the One Mizzou initiative as a whole
  • where on campus diversity is lacking
  • and the value of education

Students expressed their satisfaction because an event like this was happening, but also addressed the fact that all attendees were minorities. They talked about getting the majority to become educated on the issues that One Mizzou addresses. 

One Mizzou aims to have a more purposefully inclusive campus environment. It is a student-led organization that embraces diversity and tries to make every student comfortable on campus. One Mizzou Week includes presentations, including the one by Maya Angelou on Monday night.

"It's always nice to have a conversation," Jeff Perkins, activities chairman for the Legion of Black Collegians said. "But you have to put it in motion."

Students warmed up to each other by talking about their experiences in acclimating to MU. Some were shocked by how diverse the campus was in comparison to their hometowns, while others had the opposite reaction. 

Everyone seemed to agree that their involvement in various organizations helped them to feel more included at MU.

Ahad Hosseini, a member of the task force for One Mizzou, said initiatives that bring students together get the attention of the campus administration. 

Hosseini was happy with the outcome of diversiME, even if attendees were minorities. He said this is "natural in the beginning" of a diversity movement. One Mizzou started in February 2011.

"I'm waiting for the day when we have 15 white males, 15 African Americans and 15 Muslims wearing hijabs in a room together to have a discussion," he said.

Upcoming events include a panel of LGBTQ students and allies who will share their personal coming out stories. The event is scheduled at noon Wednesday in the lower level of the MU Student Center. At 8 p.m. Wednesday, there will be a free screening of the movie "Crash" in Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union South. A full calendar of events is here.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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