Diversity campaign strives to move beyond tolerance

Maggie Brickner

Last year, the President’s Committee on Diversity Affairs started a new campus-wide campaign entitled “Respect the Other: Moving Beyond Tolerance” to promote acceptance of diversity on campus.

As the name indicates, the new campaign focuses on the idea that simply tolerating diversity is not enough to create harmony and understanding on campus. According to junior Timeka Toussaint, chair of the Committee on Diversity Affairs, this is an important step because “with tolerance, you don’t always learn to respect.”

The Respect the Other campaign was started last year after the President’s Committee on Diversity Affairs went over the campus climate survey and noted that there seemed to be a need for greater diversity awareness on campus.

This year, the responsibility of the campaign was passed on to CODA, the Committee on Diversity Affairs, an LUCC subcommittee composed of student leaders of different on-campus diversity groups, faculty and staff advisors, the Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs and other on-campus leaders.

Toussaint noted that the campaign is challenging students to explore different groups on campus with the hope that, by “going to one group outside your comfort zone,” students will be more aware that other on-campus groups support one another.

Although CODA is responsible for the overall campaign, a number of other diversity groups on campus are also contributing to the Respect the Other campaign.

Since the campaign has started, it has been pulling in a variety of diversity groups, including GLOW and VIVA. Both groups have events planned for the rest of Spring Term, which will be put together under the umbrella of “Respect the Other.”

In the last year, huge steps have been made on campus to promote the campaign. Although most of the campus events are awareness events, a visit from leadership trainer Paul Wesselmann last term was specifically tailored for Lawrence. Wesselmann visited in March to talk with RLAs, RHDs and other campus staff and students. He returned again at the beginning of this term for a follow-up visit.

A mask-making event, sponsored in part by the Lifeline suicide prevention grant, was also a part of the campaign.

Looking toward the end of the year, CODA has planned a variety of other events. In addition to t-shirts and stickers, Ormsby Residence Hall Director and Diversity Center Programs Coordinator Rose Wasielewski has been collecting quotations about diversity from students that will be posted around campus.

Looking forward to other events this spring, Paul Rusesabagina, upon whose life the movie “Hotel Rwanda” is based, will be visiting campus April 25.