Students share diverse experiences

Kelly Petryszyn

Crowd is hesitant to speak at first

Alfreda Brown, vice president of diversity equity and inclusion, and E. Timothy Moore, associate dean of arts and sciences, spoke with students in the Kiva yesterday about diversity issues. Jessica M. Kanalas | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

E. Timothy Moore, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Alfreda Brown, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, challenged students to ask questions about diversity last night in the Kiva during a Campus Conversation program. The room was silent.

An attendee then stood up and pointed out that everyone there was having a diverse experience. By a show of hands, most people agreed.

She then asked students to share a story of positive encounters they’ve had with diversity at Kent State.

Finally, the conversation began.

Brown and Moore fielded questions about diversity that students submitted prior to the program.

One of the students who spoke out during the program, Samantha Knutson, freshman fashion merchandising major, said she grew up in a predominantly white town and rarely met other races until she came to Kent State. She now has friends of all races.

In addition to sharing positive experiences about diversity, Moore challenged students to share negative experiences about diversity as well.

Dametraus Jaggers, higher education and administration graduate student, shared one of his encounters.

He said he was at a local bowling alley with some of his friends and a white male asked him, “When did they start letting brothers bowl?”

He said he didn’t want to react in a negative way because that would have re-enforced a stereotype, but the comment had still caught him off guard.

Some of the other questions in discussion were, “How can diversity become a learning experience to help students gain a better understanding of other cultures and what drives them in their daily lives?” “How come people of all ethnic groups sit together in the cafeteria?” and “How can Kent State help us understand race issues?”

Brown challenged students to consider a famous phrase from Gandhi, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” She added that students should step out of their comfort zone and reach out to different people because understanding those differences is valuable.

Jaggers said he tries to live by that Gandhi quote. He believes the answers to questions about diversity lie with oneself.

Knutson found it refreshing to have someone of a different identity explain diversity to her.

She said she has been learning to take each person as an individual and not group the race as a whole.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” she said. “To be open is what you do to be successful.”

Contact diversity reporter Kelly Petryszyn at [email protected]