Students created the coalition with the help of Pearl Leonard-Rock, coordinator of programs for Diversity & Inclusion. DAP is a new program, but hopes to serve as a foundation for individuals and student organizations whose mission statements are aligned with promoting justice and diversity. It is also a meeting place for event planning, and community and coalition building.
Because SGA (Student Government Association) has control over the funding for student organizations, DAP is trying to work closer with student government and CAB (Campus Activities Board) to have permanent put-away funding to ensure DAP will always be around to enrich the campus.
One member said, “Diversity is not just black and white.” She explained that DAP is concerned with LGBTQ issues, ethnic studies groups, and also peace, community service, and services available for students in campus residence life programs and the residence halls.
DAP already held a retreat, featuring Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., founder of the white privilege conference, as keynote speaker. Other events this semester include a clothing drive for teens in collaboration with the group Circle K (a group focused on volunteer work), and they hope to build an effort with the Ethnic Studies Club and Hispanic group ALAS to give support to families in the community for the holidays. Next semester, DAP will be working on a leadership conference, Black History Month events in February, and Face-to-Face events.
Though DAP is focused on all the different dimensions of diversity, race and ethnicity play a large role. A Face-to-Face is an interview between people who identify as colored and people who identify as white, where they are given a list of questions to spark a cultural dialogue and understanding. Pearl described the event as intellectually and emotionally captivating, saying it wasn’t just an activity, “it’s people’s lives.” DAP also hopes to provide multicultural education and training for group members.
DAP works with other groups on campus, including the Black Student Union, SAFE (the LGBTQ group), and Esperanza (a Spanish language and community group).
Huining Ouyang, English professor and director of the Center for Multicultural Education said, “Student organizations advocating for diversity and social change provide an important space for students to bridge academic inquiry and community engagement and to cultivate leadership skills for building pluralistic, compassionate, just communities.” Huining works toward creating that bridge between student and community life and academics. She recruits Ethnic Studies minors, and the program is in the process of developing a major.