Students’ lack of information and awareness surrounding the existence of diversity groups on campus is encouraging Dixie State University to create a new student council position.
DSU hosts a variety of diverse groups including the Multicultural and Inclusion Center, LGBTQ+ Resource Center, International Student Services, Women’s Resource Center and TRiO Student Support Services. Some of these groups offer benefits students can use to aid them in their academic endeavors, but many students remain unaware of them.
Alina Pyrkh, a junior business administration major from Lugansk, Ukraine, said she doesn’t see many posters around campus advertising the information for these kinds of organizations.
“I’m an international student, and figuring out what exists on campus is hard,” Pyrkh said. “I only find out about things by talking to friends.”
According to the MIC website, the center is open to all students to encourage diversity through scholarship opportunities, tutoring and cultural activities. They hold diversity inclusion trainings on campus to educate students, faculty and staff on how to talk to those with differing backgrounds and cultures.
Vika Havili, a senior integrated studies major from Salt Lake City, as well as a student council member of the MIC, said the MIC faces a great deal of opposition because students feel like they aren’t allowed to hang out at the center or are unaware it even exists.
“It’s open to anyone and everyone, regardless of skin color, sexual orientation or religious beliefs,” she said. “In today’s society, ignorance is increasing. No one knows how to talk to people who don’t come from the same background as them. The only way to get to know someone is by taking the initiative to make a conversation with someone.”
Havili said DSU needs a more diverse faculty and staff in order to help promote the image of inclusion.
“I’m not saying they should go out and only recruit people of color,” she said. “There’s got to be more than a bunch of guys in suits that are qualified. I’m talking about women, not just brown people.”
Pyrkh suggested that DSU could help raise students’ awareness of support groups by listing all the organizations and resources available on campus on a board and placing it at the information desk where many would see it.
Although DSU has taken steps for inclusion on campus by allowing the creation of diverse groups, Student Body President Sarah Ramaker, a senior dance major from Midland, Michigan, had the idea to create the Diversity Inclusion Coordinator position on the DSU Student Association to help bridge the divide.
The position will oversee inclusion efforts made by the university and its various diversity groups in order to promote diversity in all forms, Ramaker said.
After a unanimous vote of support from the DSUSA Executive Council, the position was established this semester and filled by Derek Vega, a sophomore business administration major from Rupert, Idaho.
Vega will focus on ensuring all students are equally represented and that their needs are being met. He will also serve as a liaison among DSUSA, the MIC, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, International Student Services, as well as any other group or students who wish to have their concerns heard.
“We recognized the need for increased unity across the campus,” Ramaker said. “This position strengthens the ability of the student body president and student government as a whole to recognize and understand the needs of all students.”
Vega said his primary goal is to understand the people he will be working with and become completely involved with the diverse groups at DSU.
“My position is a great step towards embracing diversity,” Vega said.
Doajo Hicks, chief diversity officer and general counsel, did not respond to Dixie Sun News’ requests for comment.
Additional reporting will be done for diversity at Dixie State University and will appear in the Jan. 25 issue.