If new students or current students are looking for ways to get involved on campus as well as meet a wide variety of students, the Office of Student Diversity Initiatives at Cabrini may be a great option. The diversity department, started in the fall of 2008, provides programming on campus for all students as well as empowerment to students from all walks of life.
The department is geared to celebrate diversity among all students especially African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American students as well as international students. The department also celebrates the differences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
“It was originally started as a strategic plan that was done about four years ago and the issue of diversity kept coming up,” Melissa Waters, director of student diversity initiatives, said. “There was a consultant who was brought in through student development that kind of helped them structure things to happen around diversity and it was basically determined that there needs to be a department that can take more leadership in the area of diversity and that’s where the department originated.”
The department is open for all ideas for programming on campus whether it be a one-day event or a series of events throughout the semester. Every program that has come from the department started out as an idea from a student who wanted to have more available on campus. The department is a place where students can feel comfortable enough to brainstorm new ideas and make things happen.
“I like the activities. I like that you can just come here and talk. It’s a comfortable environment,” Alicia Barringer, sophomore psychology major, said.
All diversity events held on campus are open to everyone no matter what background they have.
“I want to really make sure that students understand because I’ve heard from students that they thought that if they weren’t a student of color then they didn’t think what we did was for them and that absolutely isn’t the case,” Waters said. “I mean it’s just like taking a Spanish class doesn’t mean you have to be Spanish to take a Spanish class. It’s about learning from other people and experiencing different things. That’s what I really see for the department.”
Regularly scheduled events from the department include:
- Free Expression- event that includes meeting new people and watching performances done by students.
- Raw- event that includes an open conversation about diversity issues.
- Speaker Spotlight- a member of Cabrini’s faculty presents on a diverse topic.
The department also holds National Day of Silence events, international events and heritage programming.
Waters believes that friendships have been made through the department that may not have formed otherwise whether it is senior to freshman or commuter to resident.
“Diversity isn’t just about black students and gay students and Latino students or international,” Waters said. “Everyone has their own diversity. Everyone is different. Everyone is going to express that differently. All students are welcome to come in if it’s just to hang out or if it’s just to come with an idea and we’re really open to hearing different perspectives from folks and hopefully creating new programs from all the students who are coming in.”
The diversity department is a way for students to come together and meet new people. Not only do students get to interact with each other, but they also get the opportunity to interact with faculty and staff.
“Everyone is welcome,” Felicia Melvin, sophomore communication major, said. “It’s better that way. It is diverse. It would be the point to having this group on campus. Anyone can come and participate and it would make a big difference. ”