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Encouraging unity, celebrating diversity

Diversity Week highlights various backgrounds and identities at Western

Sam Dunaway | News Editor

“Diversity” is a term that covers a broad range of topics including race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion, socioeconomic status and other components of a person’s identity. ASWOU aimed to educate the Western community on these topics during Diversity Week.

“I think a lot of people get divisive on things that involve politics, race, class — those are all big issues,” said ASWOU Director of Equity Natalie Dean. “But I think people get really hung up on the things that divide us, and I think that this was just to highlight the ways that we are all together. And not to ignore those differences, but rather to address them and recognize that they do happen.”

The week-long event, spanning from May 14-18, was hosted by ASWOU and involved several student-led organizations on campus, including: Unidos, Student Veterans of America and the D.R.E.A.M. club. Each club provided their own unique perspective and informed Western students about different aspects of diversity.

Unidos and MEChA teamed up to host a film screening of the movie “Food Chains” which discussed the working conditions of migrant farmworkers in Florida, the D.R.E.A.M. club presented information about the disabled community and accessibility on Western’s campus and the Student Veterans of America organized an open house in the Veterans Resource Center that encouraged students to learn about the various branches of the military.

ASWOU worked with the Oregon Student Association to provide workshops centered around diversity including Intro to Queer and Trans Justice, Intro to Disability Justice and Understanding Your Privilege.

Western’s Food Pantry hosted a cooking tutorial, led by former Foodservice Director Karen Nelles. The presentation demonstrated basic baking and knife skills as well as nutritional meals to make in a mason jar. Additionally, senior community health major Paula Waldron discussed topics of food insecurity and socioeconomic status to tie the event back to Diversity Week.

“Food insecurity affects millions of people in the United States — with college students being no exception,” Waldron explained. “Addressing food insecurity is important because hunger has the ability to negatively impact other areas in life and, as a result, may diminish one’s quality of life.”

Dean believes that Diversity Week provides a good opportunity for students to ask questions that they might not otherwise ask and explore the various topics of diversity.

“Learning can be scary, especially dealing with topics like this,” said Dean. “People don’t really want to talk about it … (Diversity Week) is a space that’s inclusive and is open to educating people in a way that’s not demeaning.”

Contact the author at journalnews@wou.edu