Diversity Action Team hosts final ‘Lunch and Learn’ of the semester

On May 8, the Diversity Action Team will be hosting its final “Lunch and Learn” of the semester in the Profitt Dining Room (PDR). This “Lunch and Learn” will present the results from the campus-wide survey regarding the Maryville College campus climate in regards to diversity.

The survey entails questions to see if different diversity groups feel supported on campus. According to the Diversity Action Team, once the data is collected, members of the group will compile a presentation for those who attend.

The Diversity Action Team was established in 2010 in response to a strategic plan to increase diversity at MC. The committee was initially known as the Diversity Action Council, composed of college faculty and staff. Vandy Kemp acted as chairman.

In the past year, the plan has been revamped and is now called, “Renewing Our Strength Plan,” which was approved in the fall. When the new goal was set in place, the council changed its name to the Diversity Action Team.

The Diversity Action Team holds three main objectives: increase diversity among students, employees and educational opportunities.

The luncheons are intended to primarily focus on the increase of educational opportunities the Diversity Action Team said that they aim to create. According to the group, the luncheons were intended to provide a forum for members of the college community discuss topics related to diversity.

“It shines a light on the subject of diversity,” said Vandy Kemp, vice president and dean of students. “It reminds people that it is something that is of value in this community,”

This semester, the “Lunch and Learn” series has covered a variety of topics surrounding diversity issues on campus.

For five sessions, Dr. Rebecca Lucas, associate professor of elementary education, presented her FYS 110 class, which covers LGBT issues, presents information about academic programs in the LGBT community and the campus climate. Dr. Crystal Colter, associate professor of psychology, also presented data about the diversity of faith and religion during one of the luncheons.

Another topic of the “Lunch and Learn” series explained the purpose of the ALANA Cultural Diversity Award, which is presented by the college to students who were active in diversity awareness in high school. ALANA recipients work to promote awareness on the MC campus by participating and initiating diversity related events.

According to the Diversity Action Team, the luncheons have also introduced new clubs and organizations created by MC students that aim to instill more cultural diversity on campus.

One such group, the Latino Student Alliance (LSA), was created by Jose Perez, a sophomore psychology major.

“I started LSA to provide awareness of the diverse population of Latinos that are in the United States,” Perez said.

According to Perez, he wants to provide a support system to discuss different hardships in a safe environment through the alliance. Combined with Perez’s passion for his heritage and the Diversity Action team, an LSA was created on campus.

“The diversity team has been very helpful,” Perez said. “For the most part, they have been my immediate support system for different ideas about this on-going process of attempting to encourage Latino students to come to MC.”

There have been eight “Lunch and Learn” conversations held since January, and, according to Kemp, the programs have been successful.

“The smallest group we have ever had was 12 and the largest 32,” Kemp said.

Kemp said that she hopes to continue the program’s success, and that she is looking for suggestions regarding diversity related events.

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