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‘Rather than thriving we are trying to survive’

Students share feelings of diversity and inclusion

Over 200 people gathered in Wilks Theater to participate in the Diversity Affairs Council’s (DAC) second annual Inclusion Forum on Wednesday, Sept. 18. The forum served to create a dialogue between administration and the student body concerning issues about diversity and inclusion at Miami University.

DAC and the Associated Student Government (ASG) sponsored the event. Brandon Small, the secretary for diversity and inclusion in ASG, helped plan this year’s forum.

“I don’t want to let anyone down,” Small said concerning his planning of the forum. “When you do something like this, it’s hard to amplify every perspective in the way they deserve to be. The name of the forum is Voices, and I don’t want to silence anyone’s voice. That’s the point.”

The event was broken into two parts — the first half was dedicated to presentations from various student organizations, then it was followed by a panel of administrators and student leaders. 

The Miami University Gospel Singers opened the forum by singing “My Name is Victory” by Jonathan Nelson. Then student leaders from multicultural student organizations gave short presentations about what it means to be diverse at Miami.

“To achieve genuine change, you must stop seeing minorities as just figures to put on your brochures but rather as individuals with complexities,” the Asian American Association’s vice president Jakin Wu said. 

After a short intermission, the panel portion of the forum began.

Briah Lumpkins and Tim Carlin, assistant news editors of The Miami Student, moderated the discussion. They asked prepared questions ranging from racism in Greek life, tokenization of minority students, cross-campus accessibility and the hiring of diverse faculty and staff. 

Miller Center Coordinator Dan Darkow explained how Miami is increasing the use of new technology to create accessibility and equity for disabled students.

Associate Vice President of Institutional Diversity Ronald Scott said that all faculty members will complete modules on diversity and inclusion by spring 2020. 

“No debate,” Scott said. “It’s gonna happen.”

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After the final question, the panel took questions from the audience.

Senior public health and pre-med major Abebba Araya asked what the administration is doing to hold perpetrators of anonymous hate crimes on campus accountable. 

“We come here to thrive, but unfortunately, rather than thriving we are trying to survive,” Araya said. “Where are we welcomed if we are not welcomed here?”

Dean of Students Kimberly Moore explained that in the case of anonymous hate crimes, without individuals to hold accountable, nothing can be done to the unknown perpetrators. 

“What I can promise you is that I’m listening,” Moore said. “We’re here, ready and willing to be in partnership with y’all in how to move us forward.”

Araya said she appreciated Moore’s recognition that the culture at Miami cannot be so easily changed, but she wanted to see something get done. 

“I know change can’t occur overnight,” Araya said. “I appreciate that they’re working on next steps and initiatives, but this is a now situation.”