During first-year orientation at E Pluribus, students heard about the hate crimes that happened on campus, the vandalism of cars, and racial slurs being shouted outside the Diversity Center. After those events in 2008, the Diversity Center launched into action educating the campus about inclusion, acceptance, and tolerance.
Fitting into this campus-wide program is the new Director Pearl Leonard-Rock. Leonard-Rock has taken up the role as Director of Multicultural Programs and the Diversty Center as the program shifts to a new space. She has worked with diversity organizations in an academic setting for over twenty years.
“I’d like to be considered as a member of the staff who adds value to conversations and thought of as a valuable contributor of an inclusive perspective to programs and services at Gustavus,” Leonard-Rock said.
Glenn Lloyd, the Assistant Director of the Diversity Center, hopes to continue these advancements and create an atmosphere where every Gustie recognizes their own diversity and the intrinsic value we each share.
“[Pearl’s employment] provides a great opportunity for students to engage with someone who is highly committed and highly competent in her work. Pearl brings a contagious zeal for life which is a benefit to this community,” Lloyd said.
Both Lloyd and Leonard-Rock wish to continue the Diversity Center’s focus on social justice student organizations and specifically the Diversity Leadership Council.
“I hope to continue the tradition passed on to me by Virgil Jones to provide quality student services and programs for all students that contribute to the academic richness of student experiences while at GAC,” Leonard-Rock said.
Many members of campus feel that it is empowering students and welcoming of their ideas that has established the Diversity Center as a hang out spot.
“I think the role of the Diversity Center is meant to be a very inclusive space where people come to meet new people and have conversation about life that you can’t necessarily have at other places. Here, we have deep conversations that are meant to be in a non-judgemtnal space so they can share their feelings about whatever the issue is,” Junior Abdi Umur said.
Senior Paul Thao seems to agree with Umur and thinks that Leonard-Rock will be a welcome face to campus.
“I think Pearl will be an amazing asset to Gustavs. When I met her, she was very strong in communication and adamant about goals and what she has in store [for her time at Gustavus] She’s seem very organized and really willing to work with student body,” Thao said.
In addition to the new director, the Diversity Center has swapped offices with Peer Assistants. The change came as a result of an increased need for office space for Diversity Center faculty.