The Gustavian Weekly

Highlighting diversity on campus | The Gustavian Weekly

By Victoria Clark Features Editor | May 13, 2011 | Variety

The Diversity Leadership council (DLC) will host their annual Diversity Awards Banquet on May 14, at 6:00 p.m. in Alumni Hall. The event honors two students, one faculty member and one event each year that have exemplified outstanding commitment to promoting diversity on campus.

“What the awards try to do is honor the students, faculty and events that have made great strides in promoting diversity on campus,” Senior Nursing Major and Employee of the Diversity Center Laura Jensen said.

Recipients of the Diversity Student Honors Award are Senior Health Fitness Major Maya Jayawardena and Senior English Major Kristy Proctor. Associate Professor of Psychology and Co-Adviser to Building Bridges Marie Walker will be receiving the faculty award. The Pan-African Student Organization will receive an award for Africa Night 2011 for a second consecutive year.

“This is one of the few events on campus that recognizes diversity events,” Junior Sociology and Anthropology and Political Science Major Irma Marquez said. “It’s important to celebrate and award those organizations that represent the marginalized on campus because we are a predominantly white campus.” Marquez serves as the President of the DLC.

First-year International Student Yishion Chen mentioned her appreciation for what the DLC does to support students from around the world. “The majority of the students on this campus are white, and in order to make others feel more comfortable, especially international students, it’s important to create a diverse environment to help them feel at home,” Chen said.

Something unique about this year’s awards banquet is the use of multimedia throughout the evening. “One of the cool things we’re doing is looking back at the past year. We’re having a PowerPoint presentation of all the different events that the DLC has put on,” Administrative Assistant to the Diversity Center Laura Schilling said.

“There will also be a testimonial video about the winners of the awards,” Junior Geography Major Tong Thao said. Thao is in charge of the multimedia aspects of the banquet.

Students who have attended the banquet in the past said it’s always a fun time for everyone involved. “Everyone gets dressed up. You have dinner and afterwards there’s a party with a DJ and dancing,” Jensen said.

“I love the banquet because it’s a mixture of so many cultures,” Junior Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, English and Religion Major Elizabeth Coco said.

“I think one of the highlights of the Diversity Awards Banquet is knowing that the recipients of the awards are well-deserving. It’s rewarding to see them recognized,” Marquez said.

Marquez mentioned the DLC’s struggle with attendance at the banquet and gave some possible reasons for the trouble. “We struggle with attracting people outside of those involved in the DLC. I think there is a stigma associated with the banquet that it is only for those who works with diversity programs on campus.”

“It’s a shame that the awards aren’t attended in as large of numbers as other ceremonies, because those who are recognized do extremely meaningful work for the benefit of everyone on this campus, not just a small group.”

Marquez listed greater attendance as one of her hopes for the future of the awards banquet. According to Marquez, seeing more people outside of the DLC in attendance would show the recipients of the awards that “they are recognized by the entire Gustavus community, not just the Diversity Center.”

“My sincere congratulations goes out to all the award recipients,” Marquez said. “If you see any of them around campus, make sure to thank them for their hard work and passion for diversity.”