By Sahitya Allam
NJIT has a highly diverse student body, bringing together students of various ethnic and religious backgrounds from the US and around the world. In fact, it is consistently ranked among lists of the top 10 most diverse schools in the nation. To foster recognition and appreciation of this diversity, The Diversity Programs Office within the Center for Student Involvement, run by Assistant Director Sherlene Ayala, initiates and supports activities that promote cultural competency within the community. According to its mission statement, the Diversity Programs Office is committed to raising self-awareness and respect for others and pledges to be a safe place for open dialogue, mentorship, and support. Its goal is to engage students through its programs to become advocates for issues of injustice in our multicultural world.
Diversity programs are either sponsored directly by the Diversity Programs Office or are hosted by other clubs and organizations that request a workshop for their meetings. Programs are usually scheduled around a heritage month and pertain to a single theme. This year, the months of September and October are dedicated to celebrating Hispanic heritage, with events such as “Womyn of Color in STEM” being sponsored by the Lambda Tau Omega Sorority (Sept. 30th) and “Salsa Night” being sponsored by the Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority (October 7th). Each month, the Office also sponsors cross-cultural conversations, known as C3, that center around issues of social injustice, identity, and inclusion. This series allows students to speak freely about prevalent issues of diversity on campus and to learn about different perspectives through discourse. Some past C3 events included discussions about the treatment of LGBTQIA people and illegal immigration policy within the United States in regard to the upcoming presidential election. To know when these events are being held, take a look at the Calendar of Events posted on the Diversity Programs website at njit.edu/diversityprograms/events. You can also follow the Diversity Programs Office on Twitter or like its page on Facebook.
Students who want to be a part of the Diversity Programs Staff can either be a Diversity Coordinator, which is a paid position, or a Diversity Program Assistant, which is a volunteer position. The Diversity Coordinators are responsible for designing workshops and activities for the student body and the Diversity Assistants are responsible for working with the Assistant Director and Diversity Coordinators to facilitate workshops and events and to collaborate with administrators to perform tasks. Ina Tubilleja, a junior majoring in Biology, has been working with the Diversity Programs Office as a Diversity Coordinator since its inception when she was a freshman. “It’s extremely important to facilitate discussions about diversity. We at NJIT pride ourselves on being diverse, but if we can’t appreciate others’ culture, then being diverse isn’t very efficient,” she says. She adds that sometimes it is very difficult to have these discussions with people because some see them as controversial, but she believes it is worth it to bring insight and provoke thought among students about the role of diversity on our campus. The Diversity Programs Office is currently accepting applications for the role of Peer Facilitator, which is a volunteer-based position and requires the student to host workshops. If you are interested in the position, send an email to DiversityPrograms@njit.edu to receive an application.
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