Residence life promotes diversity

By Clarissa Hunter

Residence life has eight core goals geared towards enriching the lives of students. Each semester, one objective out of the eight is chosen to be the focus. In the past, this goal would be implemented on each floor individually through events planned by resident assistants. Now, the RAs are split into different groups and must plan campus-wide events to meet the learning objective for the semester.

This semester’s learning objective is to “enhance critical thinking skills and intellectual growth through exposure to diverse ideas and cultures.”

“The goal would be that, through the programming that our RAs provide, that students would develop maybe a better understanding of diversity in whatever form,” Danielle Shafer, resident director of Hardy Hall, said.

The RDs encourage their RAs to think about diversity in a variety of forms, emphasizing that diversity can mean many things. This could be in a number of ways— through food, film, culture, etc.

“We encourage them [RAs] just to be creative and be thoughtful about how you can facilitate programming that encourages students to interact with ideas that may be foreign to them or new to them,” Shafer said.

Salsa con Salsa, encouraged diversity through dance. There was a performance by the dance group on campus “Undignified,” as well as a short talk on dance and its importance by Melissa Duffer, adjunct theatre professor and resident choreographer. Finally, the night concluded with a dance lesson by salsa instructors from Fort Wayne, IN.

The next event, DenomiNATION, is set to happen on April 28 at 7:00pm in the Merillat Centre of the Arts Recital Hall. This event will be put on by the RAs of Roush Hall and Wright Hall and will concentrate on religious diversity, specifically within the Christian faith.

“We talked a lot about looking into diversity between different religions, but we ended up deciding to focus more on diversity within the Christian faith—in the sense of examining denominational differences,” Sydney Frandsen, an RA in Roush Hall, said.

This event will look at how the different denominations view parts of Christianity such as its history and practices. To do this, the RAs will bring in professors who are knowledgeable on these subjects. Professors Bo Helmich, Jeffrey Webb, Ph.D., Tom  Bergler, Ph.D., and Luke Fetters, Ph.D., will speak about the trinity, communion and worship.

“We’re going to have those professors share a little bit about what makes the denominations different in their beliefs and then have a bit of a poll kind of seeing where people’s backgrounds are within the audience,” Frandsen said.

A group discussion will follow to complete the event.

Changing these events from floor-only to campus-wide has brought a new aspect of community to campus. Shafer discussed the implications of this among the RAs.

“Before doing this, you would collaborate with your team to plan events for your building, but there was really no collaboration outside of your building,” she said. “So this, I think, helps create unity between residence halls.”

Frandsen noticed that the events have promoted unity among the rest of the student body as well.

“At events such as Salsa con Salsa, there was a lot of different people coming together—from different residence halls, different walks of life—coming together and having a good time and engaging in the same activity,” she said.

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