By Briana Briscoe
For The Diamondback
Various University of Maryland organizations gathered at a town hall on Monday to discuss issues of diversity and inclusivity on this campus.
Members of the Student Government Association, the Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy office, the Multicultural Greek Council and the Black Alliance Network held a dialogue to bridge the gap between students of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds.
"It is a conversation that doesn't need to be had, but people don't necessarily follow through with their actions," said senior Akiel Pyant, a criminology major and president of this university's Pan-Hellenic Council. "I hope that today's dialogue will help force people to actually do something about it, to actually intermingle with other groups of different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds."
White nationalist posters found on this university's campus in December and again in March have prompted discussions of racism and overall diversity on this campus.
"Our goal is to get the campus a little more diverse for everyone," said sophomore Christine Ejimogu, a neurophysiology major and a member of SGA's diversity and inclusion committee. "So the views I heard here are what I heard before. I feel it's more at this point not just talking about it, but doing something, which is why I like this panel because we mentioned solutions towards it."
More than 30 students attended the town hall, many of whom were members of organizations looking to foster more conversations about campus diversity. Five student panelists anchored the discussion, most of whom are leaders for organizations such as the SGA, Terps for Israel, the Black Honors Caucus and the Multicultural Greek Council.
Dioni Gomez, a criminal justice major, said she would "really love to see more diversity [on campus], but there's not as much."
During the meeting, each panelist discussed their definition of diversity, and conversations addressed unity across social and cultural groups, to issues regarding the differences between various multicultural groups on campus.
"As a graduate student I feel like I'm separated from the campus community and that's bound to happen, but there is still an issue even on the graduate level," said Rachel Akins, a first year graduate student focusing on school counseling. "Just from working with the student group[s], Maryland brags about diversity but once students get here they don't feel like their needs are taken into consideration."
Despite these feelings, some students found they had commonalities with members belonging to other organizations. These similarities included a sense of sisterhood or brotherhood, culture and community support systems throughout the organizations.
"There should always be an open dialogue," said freshman Saba Tshibaka, a computer science major and president of the Black Student Union Freshman Council. "[It's] a way for everyone to get their thoughts out."