HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Students at UAH have a lot to talk about as they step back on campus.
Not only are they navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are also facing social injustice issues and having some uncomfortable but necessary conversations.
Student Body President Jessica Hunter says she sees a lot of students working to make a change.
“I saw our college students really taking into heart the social injustices in our country following the death of George Floyd and the events that occurred thereafter and events that are still going on,” said Hunter.
A department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville is aimed at helping students understand unfamiliar perspectives.
The Office of Diversity, Equity and inclusion at UAH aims to help students gain perspective by hosting conversations, events and offering resources.
“The office of diversity does a pretty good job of offering forums and town halls and things where students can talk about their grievances, talk about how they feel about certain situations,” said student Josh Thompson.
The department has been taking the initiative toward an inclusive campus for many years now but this year they are launching a new initiative.
“It’s called ‘DISA’ but its a Diversity and Inclusion Student Leadership Alliance group and it is led by student leaders across campus with the charge of furthering our diversity and inclusion programs,” said Laterrica Shelton Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UAH
As these students prepare for a better future inside the classroom, they are also making an effort to create a greater tomorrow outside the classroom by sharing and acting upon what diversity and inclusion mean to them.
Student Jourdain Johnson said, “from peer to peer, you go out and meet different students. You go out and meet people who are different majors, you go out and meet people who are a different ethnicity.”
The students say you can learn from a different perspective.
“The way your life has gone up to this point and the way my life has gone is very different up to this point and by that we can learn different perspectives,” said Hunter.
They want all students to feel included.
“No one should feel unwelcome on our campus whether they are LGBTQ+ or black, white, whatever everyone should feel welcome,” said Thompson.
There are around 15 ‘DISA’ ambassadors heading to a retreat to get diversity and inclusion training, equity training, they have a session on LGBTQ+ terminology so they can be ready to help their peers tackle these topics this year.
“I believe it should start with the youth. I believe the youth have a lot of power, an unbelievable amount of power once they realize their worth and how powerful their words can be,” said Johnson.
“We are a generation that is very much on social media so it gave us not only a place to go for different news from a reliable source but also to see how other people are reacting like how are people in California feeling about this as well as people from my home town and on my college campus,” said Hunter.
Hunter says the school’s student government associations works very closely with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in an effort to create a safe space for everyone on campus.
She also says the student government at UAH is working to dive into the history of the campus, what was there before it was a college. As well as studying to learn more about the integration of the campus.