By Michela Arlia
Reporting Assistance by Gabriela Flores
The West Quad was buzzing again on Tuesday, Sept. 20, as the Diversity Awareness Fair took over. In an effort to celebrate the many cultures and traditions on campus, the event hosted by the S.A.I.L. Center and Student Affairs featured food, music, and giveaways.
Clubs, organizations like Hillel and the LGBTQ Resource Center, and many others joined to show students new and old that their voices are represented within the student body.
“I said it a few times in terms of the DNA of Brooklyn College consistent of diversity and having that door for people to get the opportunity to get an education. So I think we are represented across campus and the important thing is that we respect and give dignity to the people we have here,” said Jesús Pérez, the director of the Immigrant Student Success Office that co-sponsored the fair. Pérez has been at BC since 1989, when he started as a student, and can attest to the college’s diversity he’s observed over the years.
BC was recently recognized by the U.S. News and World Report as the most ethnically diverse college among campuses in the North Region for the fifth consecutive year.
“I know Brooklyn College likes to promote the fact that we are one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the country, so for the students to come and actually see it, I think its good for them to actually get that experience,” said Shadiq Williams, alum and program coordinator of Black and Latino Male Initiative on campus. Williams’ chapter aims to promote the inclusion of underrepresented groups in academia by supporting their educational success.
Among the other organizations and clubs present was NYC Men Teach, a partnership between the Office of the Mayor, the New York City Department of Education, and CUNY that intends to improve the teaching workforce’s diversity within the city. Their original goal was to add 1,000 male teachers of color into the teacher pipeline by 2018.
“It’s very inclusive so they encourage all who have that passion for pedagogy to come and join city Men Teach,” said Andre Clark, an NYC Men Teach mentee under Program Manager Shemeka Brathwaite. Clark noted the program is highly beneficial for men who have a passion for teaching but did not major in it in time. He also explained that the group provides services for their participants in the form of vouchers and compensation for MetroCards and study materials in order to pass teacher certification exams.
Also representing at the fair was Lamec Fabian, president of the Dominican Student Movement (MEDo), who was grateful for the diversity fair in order to spread word of representation to students.
“It’s nice to show the campus who we are, to let them know that we exist because I feel like a lot of students don’t know so it’s good to show them and it’s good to know that there’s people to represent them here in campus and there’s a group that they can just come to,” said Fabian.
InterVarsity, a Christian club that exists on campus with the belief that everyone is loved by God, also represented on campus.
“Brooklyn College is a very diverse campus so for people to be here, to come and share about their culture, about their religion, about their ethnic backgrounds, I think it’s a really special thing,” staff member Peter Cho said. Cho credits InterVarsity for allowing him to feel included when he first entered campus, and hopes to emit the same energy to new students this year.
“As a freshman, because I felt so cared for, I wanted to participate in InterVarsity and share that love with other people who are in need of a space like this,” he said.
From the point of view of faculty on campus, Perez told the Vanguard that the role they play is vital to making sure diversity awareness continues on campus and that students embrace their diversity.
“I think that people who work for the college, our role is to be there for the students and to be there for the diversity to support them and to make sure that everybody you know works together and reaches the goal […] to get an education,” he said
While offering everything from traditional ethnic foods to the opportunity to play board games with students across many clubs, diversity in its true form sprung up last Tuesday on the quad. Several leaders who represented at the fair stressed the importance of clubs becoming families, welcoming anyone regardless of their background and representing the groups they advocate for.
“I think it’s important for students to be able to walk out and see themselves reflected in the campus that they attend, especially if there’s somebody maybe that primarily goes to class and goes home, they may not get to see the full breadth and depth as to just how much diversity is on the campus,” Williams from BLMI said.
The event’s large turnout enabled students on campus to see the resources and spaces available to them. From the West End Building and its numerous student-run clubs to Roosevelt’s ISSO, organizations across Brooklyn College are on standby to help and represent.
“There’s clubs all throughout campus hidden in Boylan, in James, in Ingersoll, Roosevelt and it’s just like we’re here and if you just step out and try to find us, you’ll definitely find someone that’s part of clubs that you can definitely come by,” said Fabian.