In the 21st century, people like to brush away the notion of prejudice. As beings capable of space travel, intercontinental communication and peaceful governance, the idea that some still judge others on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or skin tone appears ludicrous. Rebecca Godderis, organizer of the Diversity Group on campus, explains why this is a false statement.
“Even though the explicit acts of harassment aren’t there anymore, discrimination is a lot more subtle and therefore more difficult to challenge.” Godderis, along with other faculty and students make up the Diversity Group. Under this umbrella rests a whole host of different organizations, including the Laurier Brantford Rainbow Alliance, Ladies and Gents and, finally, the Aboriginal Student Association. All of these clubs serve the same overall purpose, to promote understanding and equality.
It is fair to say that the Diversity Group has made massive advances since its inception last year. New this semester, they’ve chosen a temporary room in the basement of the Carnegie building as a diversity space. Although small now, they plan to expand it elsewhere in order to meet their overall vision as, Godderis explains, “It will be a space where different groups can come together and people can go and get information. It’ll be a safe space on campus, a place with resources and access to members of the Diversity Group.”
It’s clear that as of now, the momentum is still gathering. Plans for the upcoming years are incredibly gutsy and ambitious. In terms of recent ideas, a specific fair will be sure to stir up some good conversations come fall. The F Word event (the F standing for feminism) will be held on Oct. 18. It will consist of an information fair beginning at 11 a.m. which will run all day in tandem with a panel of five from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., discussing the title issue. Godderis explains that it will combat the notion of feminists as, “bra-burning, man-haters.” One of the more overarching hopes of the association is to eventually usher in specific support dedicated to each group in the representative Laurier Brantford community. This includes the desire to keep sprouting new clubs dedicated to the different types of diversity on campus.
Even with the large and, sometimes, over-powering word, diversity, in their title, the group has managed to make very specific strides on campus. Pointed plans for next year are exciting and clearly laid out, but a much bigger picture still looms. The key goals behind the Diversity Group aren’t simply to create spaces and events but instead to keep stoking the conversation.
Although physical, tangible steps are needed they are a means, not an end. The end everyone is hoping for is open communication about these sensitive topics and overall understanding and compassion.