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Saturday, March 2, 2024
The Observer

Week emphasizes theme of accountability for campus issues

Student government and the Gender Relations Center (GRC) are partnering to host the “Cost of Silence” week. Formerly known as “Race Relations Week,” sophomore Kaleem Minor, student government director of diversity and inclusion, said the new title was meant to encompass more issues on campus.

“We feel like something bigger on this campus is what it means to be silent for your friend, what it means to not be an ally,” Minor said. “What’s the cost [of] that? And not just allyship, but being accountable, being involved with the issue. Because this issue is not something that one person, one group, one organization can fix. It’s something that everybody has to chip in and help [solve].”

The week includes events such as apparel handouts, T-shirt distributions, a screening of the film “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change,” a pledge signing and a speaker series.

“We’re trying to encourage people to know their role, understand their role and figure out their role,” Minor said. “While our University’s great, there’s a lot of things that aren’t great for … students that aren’t a majority in any sense — whether it be race, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status and gender identity.”

Minor said his department — diversity and inclusion — put a lot of thought into the week’s events to make sure they were as successful as possible. He said they focused on events that would engage students and incite discussion, not just through the panels, but from events as simple as T-shirt distributions. The T-shirts advertise statistics on women’s rights, race and sexual identity, among others.

The event Minor said he is most excited about is the speaker series.

“The goal of this event and the reason I’m so excited about it is because you have these people who are experts in this field and understand what’s going on, talking to students and challenging students to get involved,” he said.

The goal of the week, Minor said, is to get students thinking about how to act on the issues they care about the most.

“A lot of students, from what I’ve heard, they want to change campus but they don’t know how,” he said. “We just talk about what they care about and why they care about it and encourage them to get involved … in any way because everybody has a role.

“The general arching theme is accountability. How can you get involved? How can you change campus?”

Minor said he remembers last year, his freshman year, when campus was especially hostile during election season.

“I think now there’s an aura of being cordial, but not necessarily talking or having conversations,” he said. “I think there’s a deep and thorough need for that under the right circumstances, which is something we all have to come together and decide how to do.”

In terms of racial relations and inclusion on campus, Minor said, there is definitely room for improvement. He said this week empowers students to bring up the issues they most care about. He said in conjunction with the GRC, student government hosts this week to serve as a platform for students to voice their opinions on how to make this University a more welcoming place for all, without exceptions.

“We have some really powerful events [this week] that can really provoke some thought and discussion,” he said. “If we can get 20-25 people … to say, ‘Wow, I have an issue that I really care about and I want to get involved in fixing this’ … that’s a win to me.”