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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary's Student Diversity Board discusses plans for academic year

With the new school year underway, clubs and organizations across campus are busy recruiting new members and formalizing plans for the semester. One such organization is Saint Mary's Student Diversity Board (SDB).

The SDB is a student organization intended to create awareness of diversity in order to educate, provide support and celebrate differences within the Saint Mary's community.

Bella Tillman, a junior at the College and president of the SDB, is a firm believer in the organization’s mission and goal.

"My high school was very diverse, so coming here was kind of a shock. I knew I wanted to be surrounded by diversity and I wanted to help alleviate any problems that were a result of a lack of diversity," Tillman said.

SDB's first major event will be a Kickoff Week, which will take place during the second week of October. The culminating event will be a dinner for students who have felt marginalized or excluded during their time at Saint Mary's.

Another event the group is planning is College Wasn't What You Expected. This event is intended to be a safe place for discussion and debriefing after the first month of classes. Though any student can attend the event, it will be geared toward first-year students. Resources will be available to those who need it at this event, Tillman said.

SDB sets goals for each semester, Tillman said. These goals include raising awareness for diversity, increasing student turnout at events and growing the organization.

Guadalupe Gonzalez, a junior and SDB’s vice president of strategic initiatives, encouraged all students to attend events put on by the SDB.

“College, for many, is the first time they are engaging with people with very different lived experiences than them,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone's lived experiences are valuable. We must push ourselves to understand that the way we see the world is not how our classmate from accounting experiences it.”

The various events the group puts on are designed to further SDB’s mission, Gonzalez said.

“[Events] are created to foster relationship — building and learning beyond the classroom,” she said.

Jazmin Herrera, a junior and SDB vice president, said events are designed to showcase diversity.

“Not only are they fun, but these events are made to educate, promote and celebrate diversity,” she said.

One major goal for the semester is to redefine diversity, Tillman explained.

“SDB wants students to know that diversity is not just about race — it includes different cultures, religions, sexual orientations and disabilities," Tillman said. “The problem is when you host a diversity event, only diverse students show up, so I want everyone to show up.”

One of the board’s long-term goals, Gonzalez said, is to establish a scholarship fund.

“It will be available to help our students, who might have financial hardships, to have a regular college experience,” she said.