Edwards’ DEI Committee holds their first major event of the semester

The Edwards College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Dean’s Student Advisory Committee (DEI) hosted an open-mic night as their first major event of the semester. 

According to Gary Schmidt, the director of the committee, the event was held in the Edwards courtyard from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2022. Schmidt said the purpose of the event was for the campus community to come out and give productive feedback about the college. 

“So many events are online that we felt that by having this outside, open-mic would be a great way to bring students together to talk about a topic that is important for all of us,” Schmidt said. 

Brandon Davis, a student advisor on the committee, said the event was put on in hopes of receiving concrete feedback from students so the committee can start planning more advocacy work and create tangible change in the future. Davis said the idea was a collective effort from the committee, who was inspired by the theater department’s Town Hall meeting last semester. 

“Our ultimate goal for this event is to feel the pulse and get a better idea of what actual initiatives and actions people want us to take,” Davis said.  

Committee members said the event had a microphone set up in the Edwards courtyard where members of the audience were invited to speak. According to Davis, each person had five minutes to speak and were guided by a moderator. 

At the event, students in both undergraduate and graduate programs spoke. Most of the topics of conversation included issues surrounding gender identity, anxiety and belonging on campus, offensive language, critical race theory, and the issue of needing more all-gender bathrooms on campus, among other topics of this nature. 

Briar-Payton Anderson, a freshman at CCU who spoke at the event, said they thought the event was interesting and great for hearing other sides of the campus community. 

“I didn’t really have an intention of going up there, but I’m glad I did because it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, just my personal experiences, and I’m glad I got to share that with people,” Anderson said. 

Davis said he thought the turnout of the event was a “resounding success.” He said the committee received many comments and feedback which will help them moving forward.  

According to Schmidt, the DEI Dean’s Student Committee began a little over a year ago in fall 2020. Schmidt said Claudia Bornholdt, Dean of Edwards College, convened the first group of student advisors to get feedback on how to make Edwards a more inclusive, diverse and welcoming space. He said this year there are five new members from differing majors. Members were selected based on nominations by department chairs who believed the individual they selected was passionate about the topic and would make the commitment.  

For more information on the Edwards’ DEI committee and their events, visit their Instagram @ccu_dei_studentadvisory or reach out to Schmidt via e-mail at [email protected].