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Student Leaders Raise Awareness About Diversity Issues to Faculty Senate

by Madison Jarnot

Student leaders Kelssi Aguilar, Precious Jackson, Jamara Melvin, and Imani Thompson presented at the faculty senate meeting on Monday, Feb. 17 to discuss their experiences as students of color at Pitt-Greensburg.

Thompson discussed activities on campus and how they are sometimes not inclusive of students of color.

“Events on campus don’t particularly pertain to us,” Thompson said. “While [they] are educational, we’re not really included.”

Aguilar agreed with Thompson and would like events to reach out to students of color in order to find ways to be more inclusive and welcoming of them.

She also hopes to see more than just dining events created specifically for students of color.

“These events don’t reach out to us,” Aguilar said. “I’ve never been asked if these [Diversity Student Coalition’s] dinners represent us, and four events on campus isn’t doing us any service.”

Melvin talked about her experiences in the classroom and reminded faculty to consider students of color when choosing their class material.

“There’s more we can do to make classes more inclusive. A lot of history being taught about African Americans is on the tragic side,” Melvin said. “We gravitate towards slavery, but there’s so much more [to our history].”

Jackson also presented about her experiences in the classroom and microaggressions she has dealt with as a student of color at Pitt-Greensburg. She urged faculty to help students of color who are targeted during class.

“You need to speak up and defend the black student body. Talk to the student after class, let them know [what happened] is not okay,” Jackson said. “[Students of color] feel alone, like ‘nobody has my back.’”

Aguilar, Jackson, Melvin, and Thompson want students of color to stay on campus and feel welcomed.

“Most people of color on campus leave,” Thompson said, and she would like to change that. She encouraged faculty to speak with the administration, fellow faculty members, admissions, and clubs they advise to help diversify Pitt-Greensburg.

“Put the bug in their ear,” she said. “People should be respected, and people should be valued.”

Dr. Stacey Triplette, associate professor of Spanish and French and faculty senate president, echoed Aguilar, Jackson, Melvin, and Thompson after their presentations and encouraged faculty to listen.

“Take what our students said with a spirit of openness,” she said. “Try to include as diverse representation of cultures [in class] as possible. Be sensitive, and be brave.”

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