FSC focuses on diversity on campus
The MLK Day of Impact brought many students together on Jan.15 for a lecture by speaker Dr. Mary F. Berry. Berry’s speech covered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and how it still affects people today. During her speech, Berry also acknowledged that diversity on college campuses is extremely difficult to accomplish.
In response to Berry’s message, FSC President Anne Kerr mentioned that the school has been working towards making a more diverse campus. Kerr introduced the diversity task force to students and faculty at the event. The diversity task force is new to FSC and was created by Kerr, the Board of Trustees, the administration staff, faculty and some students.
Brenda Lewis, the director for the Simmons Center for Multicultural Appreciation, is a part of FSC’s diversity task force. Lewis has been working with the school for 23 years and helps students that might be facing racial problems on campus. Lewis said that the task force and Kerr has been collecting data for their first year on campus. It has hired an outside source to conduct focus groups for students and faculty.
“The focus group is for students to tell us if they feel the diversity on campus can improve,” Lewis said. “Or if they feel included on campus.”
After the representative has collected all her data, the diversity task force will move forward and start creating programs and events that will appeal to all students, Lewis said. Lewis believes that for right now, more diversity awareness and a larger acceptance of diverse people could help the campus expand its community.
Dr. Harry Nethery, assistant professor of the Religion and Philosophy department at FSC, also serves on the task force. He said that the focus groups will give students a platform to speak their mind since everything is anonymous during this time. The task force is meant to be used to isolate not only racial issues, but issues that include religion and gender. As a professor, Nethery believes the best you could do is be there for students.
“I remember when I first got here, I went right to the Multicultural Center and met Brenda Lewis,” Nethery recalls. “After that, I just stuck around and met students. I just wanted them to know that I want to help in whatever way I can.”
So far the diversity task force has been showing students that the diversity issue has been noted and will continue to be addressed. Derrick Jean-Baptiste, the MSC’s student intern and senior at FSC, served as one of the voices of the student body. Jean-Baptiste believes that many students might not acknowledge that diversity is a problem. He believes to get to the final step, the diversity task force has to go through all these issues on campus, even if it might cause some tension between students.
“As a student, I definitely don’t feel included on campus,” Jean-Baptiste said. “Sometimes I would hear other students in Hollis Hall scream out the N-word for no reason. I was scared to leave my room, not in fear of attack but in fear of not feeling included with my peers.”