All points of view come together in Diversity Coalition
The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, dedicated to respect, community building and innovative dialogue, opened at Ripon College in the fall of 2015. Director of Multicultural Affairs Kyonna Henry and student leaders work together as the Diversity Coalition to promote multiculturalism and the College’s diversity statement.
“Diversity is what makes this world interesting and awesome to live in; however, some still don’t get … levels of power and oppression, or how, in today’s society, we need to be culturally aware because our world is so unique in all aspects,” Henry says.
The Diversity Coalition is composed of eight student organizations: Black Student Union (BSU); Cultural Diversity Club; Queer Straight Alliance (QSA); La Unida; Asian Student Association (ASA), Disability Rights, Activism and Education Movement (DREAM); Amnesty International; and RC Feminists.
“I talk with student leaders every day,” Henry says. “They come and do their homework in my office, eat lunch here and take advantage of the brave space provided.”
Henry says that “being able to give students from underrepresented groups the tools to create and implement their dreams on this campus” is most rewarding aspect of her work. “I relate to every group and applaud them for what they do,” she says.
Amnesty International’s president, Ali Hamza ’21 of Lahore, Pakistan, says work with the Diversity Coalition is rewarding. “You get a lot of experience and skills,” he says. “All minds are working together, like supercomputers. (We) have different culture backgrounds and different perspectives.”
Rachel Brand ’19 of Stratford, Wisconsin, president of DREAM, adds that being a leader in the Diversity Coalition is being part of a collaborative effort “to make more voices heard and to learn and grow together.”
Diversity Coalition club meetings and events are open to all Ripon College students. “You can still go to meetings and events held by DREAM if you don’t have a disability or mental illness; you can still go to La Unida’s meetings events without having Hispanic heritage,” Brand says.
The Diversity Coalition also provides a safe space for underrepresented members of society and brings together a variety of Ripon College students to discuss issues. The group simultaneously educates and advocates for changes they want to see take place.
“Having a coalition is also important at a liberal arts institution like Ripon College because it embodies the values of learning from multiple disciplines and perspectives that are a part of a liberal arts education,” Brand says.
“We are essentially teaching and representing a variety of perspectives on race, gender, sexual/romantic orientation, culture and ability, and I think it’s important for us to come together and learn from each other.”
Dakota Marlega ’21