On Thursday, March 23, Sacred Heart University hosted its second annual Underrepresented Student Leaders Panel in the Schine Auditorium. This event brought together members of clubs such as the Social Work Club, College Democrats, Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), and La Hispanidad to discuss topics related to social justice.
Executive Director of Multicultural Affairs, Robert Johnson said, “The focal point is to further amplify the voices of underrepresented students.”
The event provided a space for dialogue between the university’s diverse student body and faculty network about how best to create an equitable environment for everyone on campus. Students had the chance to interact with each other, learn about resources available at Sacred Heart, and gained insight into how to achieve success despite their minority status.
Students had the opportunity to learn about the experiences of underrepresented student leaders on campus. Sophomore Khiara Browdy said, “I believe having this panel sheds light on how it is to be an underrepresented student on campus and also highlights ways and services that can help individuals navigate and feel more comfortable on campus.”
Five questions were presented to the attendees and panelists. The meditators opened it up to the audience members first, ushering them to chat about their thoughts with their peers, then brought it back to the panelist. This formation engaged the audience and made audience members feel included in the discussion.
Senior and Spectrum editor Alejandro Ramos said, “I think that a public forum is always a great way to have students or anyone to really discuss the issues that are faced because a lot of times
people deal with things, whether it’s here at Sacred Heart or it’s in other places, that maybe you don’t want to vocalize, or you don’t know who to talk to.”
An impressive panel of speakers from a variety of backgrounds was featured. Many of them shared their stories and spoke of the need for Sacred Heart to continue to provide equal access and resources to underrepresented students.
By listening, learning, and engaging with each other during this event, students gained insight into how to effectively create an environment where everyone feels safe, heard, and respected.
Ramos and Johnson gave attendees important definitions of words such as “marginalized” to further educate and inform students. They discussed how to create a more inclusive environment at Sacred Heart. Students asked questions in order to gain a better understanding of their peers’ perspectives.
Senior Maria Pandolfo said, “I’m hoping that it will show people that there are people on campus who do care about them and who want to amplify their voices and just be supportive.”
They discussed what it means to be a leader and how to create a more inclusive environment at Sacred Heart. Students shared their stories and asked questions in order to gain a better understanding of their peers’ perspectives.
The Underrepresented Student Leaders Panel provided a unique insight into how members of minority communities feel within their universities and how these feelings can affect their overall college experiences. Much work still needs to be done in order to create a more inclusive atmosphere, but SHU is taking positive steps toward achieving this goal through events like this one.
“We have to be honest, and we have to be authentic about the areas where we’re deficient,” said Johnson. “This panel is one of the many or multitude of things that will allow for students to be able to voice and showcase and give examples as to where we are deficient, but also highlight what we’re doing well.”