I acknowledge that I have bias. We all come from unique backgrounds that influence the way we live our lives. These unique sets of experiences inform the way in which each of us perceives the world.
To have bias is part of human nature. It is our challenge, however, to prevent our bias from becoming prejudice, resulting in thoughts, words or actions that discriminate against, devalue or harm other people.
Earlier this semester, students represented by the National Panhellenic Council were deeply disrespected by an incendiary, degrading and racist comment made by a fellow student on social media.
This single incident indicates a greater cultural issue on campus.
A black student leader once said to me, “The experience of a black student on campus is very different than the experience of a white student.”
Why is that? Why do some students feel marginalized on our campus? Why do we as a community allow that to be the reality?
Administrators can create policies and rules to influence our behaviors, but it is our responsibility to create a campus culture which is welcoming to all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, cultural background — anything that contributes to who they are.
In the UK Creed, we all promise to “embrace diversity and inclusion and to respect the dignity and humanity of others.” There is never an easy time, only our time. And I believe now is our time to take this to heart and turn idea into action.
In the coming weeks I will work in partnership with NPHC, OUTsource and many other student leadership groups to create a student task force on diversity and inclusion to address the issues surrounding the cultivation of a campus environment in which all students can feel comfortable.
This task force will serve as a central work group, but I believe it is important that all students have opportunities to contribute and participate.
A collective step forward is a powerful one. Throughout this first semester, as Student Body President, I have heard from several different groups of students who are passionate about making UK more inclusive.
By offering a platform through which to unite these efforts, we can work together to make our campus an even better place.
We should not — we cannot — accept the status quo. Every student deserves an unconditional sense of belonging at our school, and it is on all of us to make that the reality.