The One New Effort Conference focused on raising awareness about inclusivity and what students can do to get involved, occurred last Wednesday, April 24.
Mark Moua, Inclusivity Director of the Student Government Association, described the event and its purpose.
“The goal of the O.N.E. conference was to get the whole campus involved and engaged in inclusivity. Inclusivity is not discussed to the levels where it should be on this campus, so this conference is a way of engaging the campus on how we can better discuss this topic,” Moua said.
Moua explained that understanding and developing diversity and inclusivity is not only for a better campus but is needed for the work environment.
“Students leaving this campus should be ready and set to face all the tribulations that society will give them. That is why diversity and the acceptance of diversity are so important. In the future, you will not get to decide who you will have to work with. That is why understanding and accepting someone’s differences is so important.
It not only makes you a better citizen, but it also prepares you for the future,” Moua said.
Aric Zondlo attended the conference and explained its purpose. “To provide equal opportunity for all students of all races and culture, and in order to provide equal opportunity, we need to consider these differences, embrace them and cooperate with one another,” Zondlo said.
Zondlo stressed the importance of accepting diversity.
“Even if there is only one student on campus that may be having a problem with it—if you could reach out to that one student, it would be worth it. It’s good to educate students on this because people can forget. Even if it’s not a large problem on this campus, it is hard to be perfect,” Zondlo said.
Chancellor Bernie Patterson, who spoke at the conference, was adamant that inclusivity is not something just a few people need to be involved in.
“This cannot be something that only one group on campus is interested in. This has to be something that is infused across campus,” Patterson said. “It has to be something that everybody thinks and understands and agrees that it is their responsibility, just like recruiting and retaining students. In fact, you could easily make the case that the issues of diversity we are talking about right now are critical to our success in recruiting and retaining students.”
While many students may not see much of a problem with diversity on campus, Moua said that due to his position, he sees the problem more than others.
“With inclusivity, this campus is not doing terrible, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Speaking to so many students, not everyone has had a very pleasant experience here because of the discrimination and racism that
they have faced,” Moua said. “There is a lot more that this campus could be doing to educate and raise awareness to prevent these incidents.”
Campus has already taken numerous steps to help increase diversity on campus, including the new search for a Director of Diversity on campus and the allocation of funds toward inclusive activities to promote diversity and acceptance across campus.