New student group focuses on diversity

UK’s campus saw a rise in racially driven conflicts this school year, and a new student organization is looking to help move the campus forward with strategic leadership.

“I think this year was a rough year for campus,” said Patrick Nally, a member of the new student organization. “But anytime there’s a down year, there’s room to grow.”

Success, which stands for Students United for Campus Climate Enhancement and Student Success, became an official UK student organization last week with eight members but has been planning its mission for months now.

The group’s name includes two of its main goals — developing underrepresented students into leaders and leading by example to make UK a more inclusive and open campus, said Nally, a marketing and integrated strategic communications junior.

Another goal includes establishing more trust among students and top administrators, including President Lee Todd and Provost Kumble Subbaswamy, so that when diversity and racism issues arise on campus, the two groups are prepared to work together effectively.

“I don’t think communication was very good at all before between students and administrators,” said Success representative Wesley Robinson, who also writes for the Kernel. “The administrations’ silence on issues represented that students weren’t working with administrators in relation to diversity and racism.”

Concerned students organized after racially motivated events on campus this year, including a racially charged Oct. 5 Kernel cartoon likening UK’s Greek system to a slave auction, a racial slur written on a student’s dorm room door and an anti-Muslim forwarded e-mail sent out by Student Government President Nick Phelps through an SG Listserv.

For Success representative James Davidson Jr., concerns about racially motivated action on campus made him want to speak out before this year.

In 2005, someone wrote the n-word on his friend’s car parked in K-Lot and then later on a dorm room door.

“It’s a culmination of injustice and inequality that’s happened on campus,” said Davidson, an integrated strategic communication senior.

Nally and Robinson said the group is not a programming organization. Instead of hosting its own events, it will work to bring student organizations together and create more cooperation. Some of its initiatives could include starting a Web site, hosting town hall meetings and using events like K-Week to talk with students about opportunities on campus for diversity-related events.

“There are so many groups trying to do good things, but they’re all facing different directions,” Nally said.

The organization is accepting applications for next year through April 4th and will take 11 members for the 2008-09 school year.

Ryan Murrell, a political science sophomore, said he is thinking of applying to be a Success representative because the group will create leaders whom other students can look up to. Murrell is one of the directors of OUTsource, a student organization that provides a resource center for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and questioning students.

“I’m interested because of the work I’m already doing to create an inclusive campus,” Murrell said. “It’s about changing attitudes.”

To apply for a Success representative position, e-mail Nally at [email protected] or get an application at the Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.