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November 02, 2012
Vol. 54 No. 8

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Response team promotes diversity to SU students

Diversity troubles at Susquehanna have come to the forefront of things happening on campus this semester.

This year alone, there have been a number of incidents happening around campus, including the swastikas found drawn around Smith Hall.

Many students may connect these incidents to the increase in diverse groups on campus.
Director of the Center for Diversity and Social Justice Dena Salerno said tension is inevitable when trying to bring about change, especially in a very isolated community.

"It's always hard to speculate where it comes from," Salerno said. "When you increase the diversity on campus, you increase it in the community as well and there are going to be tensions based on a lack of understanding and just old ignorance."

Salerno, along with other faculty members on the Bias Response and Education Team (BRET) and Residence Life, hosted a movie showing of "Higher Learning," and held a discussion Wednesday night for first-year students, athletes and resident assistants.

Assistant Professor of English Angelique Nixon said she hopes that this discussion will lead to further discussion of diversity on campus and allow students to "be safe and not just feel safe."

Nixon, in her second year of teaching at Susquehanna, said she has experienced prejudice on campus as well through racial comments within her first year at Susquehanna.

Her experience first-hand with the racial and ethnic tensions on campus made her desire to work with groups on campus, including BRET, to talk about issues like these.

"By no means are we looking to play the blame game, we are just looking to create more awareness: diversity awareness, awareness of privilege and awareness of identity. We want to create a space for students to talk about things and feel comfortable," Nixon said.

Nixon said she believes that it is important that students understand the concept of intent versus impact. Just because you may think it's funny, doesn't mean it will be received or felt in that same way.

Salerno said that BRET plans to host more movie showings throughout the year and continue the dialogue in the Susquehanna community on the issue of diversity.

Nixon stated, "These things can't be solved overnight but hopefully we can begin the conversation."

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