On March 16, 2016, the Center for Civic Engagement hosted a Diversity Dinner for Hofstra students of color to be heard by faculty members in a round-table format. Each table included students from various racial identities, a list of important questions about inclusion and representation at Hofstra, and professors taking notes about the students’ concerns. The groups stayed engaged in these important conversations for hours throughout the evening, and it was a successful forum where people got to hear about each other’s experiences.
CCE Fellow Tempe Staples attended the Dinner and wrote the following account of its events:
“I am so glad I took the time to attend the Diversity Dinner hosted in the Library last Thursday. It was a pleasure listening and sharing experiences with my peers. When we are all so caught up in our own little worlds, it is easy to forget other people’s narratives are equally as valid as yours – the more perspective you gain, the more enriched your understanding of social structures becomes. My table had much to say in regards to feeling stereotyped by faculty, and the way those stereotypes impacted their behavior, and thus the classroom experiences of the student. Unfortunately, all of us had experienced or witnessed some sort of prejudice, from serious offenses to offhand comments that were ‘just kidding’ scenarios.
Racism, sexism, all the isms – they are not easy to discuss, but this is necessary to create change. Ultimately we all concluded that while our experiences differed, the issue was the same. Hofstra needs to holistically and comprehensively approach diversity, and diversity shouldn’t be an issue, it should be a celebration.”
The thoughts and suggestions made by students at the dinner will be compiled for systemic positive change at Hofstra. However, speaking and listening are the first steps toward greater understanding and unity.