Mount St. Joseph University

Power in diversity

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Jennifer Smith

File Under: cab, diversity, leadership

Mount students and faculty recently approached the subject of diversity head on at a Pizza and Ponder event called “Power in Diversity.”  

The event that occurred on Feb. 10 invited attendees to engage in a discussion about the importance of acknowledging diversity on campus and in society.  Those who attended were encouraged to make their own definition of diversity and reflect on how much they think about it on a daily basis.  

“Power in Diversity” was facilitated by Christina Brown, who is the Community Outreach and Engagement Coordinator with the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission. 

Brown introduced the subject of diversity as being challenging, and accordingly told the audience it was normal to “experience discomfort.”  Brown encouraged the audience to question why they feel that way and reflect on what that means for the discussion.

There were also presentations from three student panelists who attended the Power in Diversity Leadership Conference in Minnesota.  Mount students Jenna Rotundo, Sherylrose Otiendo, and Erin Fontaine discussed what they learned and experienced at the conference.

Fontaine talked about how she was grateful to attend this conference in order to see diversity in a new light.

“It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to see things from a different point-of-view, since I’ve lived in Cincinnati my whole life,” said Fontaine.

A junior at the Mount, Fontaine expressed how she gained insight from the conference on how diversity means working together and isn’t about putting people into categories. She pointed to Coca-Cola’s “America the Beautiful” Super Bowl commercial that has received a lot of attention as of late to point to how America is full of diversity.

 Fontaine is a student leader on campus, as well as a member of Campus Activities Board, and has been working towards putting what she learned about diversity into action on campus.  For instance, CAB and the Black Student Union recently worked together to bring comedian Calise Hawkins to campus.

Fontaine says she’s looking forward to working with other organizations on campus to continue this conversation on diversity. 

“I think it’s important for students to know about diversity because many don’t think we have a lot on campus,” said Fontaine.  “We want to make sure we include everyone and make everyone feel welcome.”

 In the beginning of the event, Brown warned the audience to “expect nondisclosure.” So in concluding the event, Brown reminded the audience that diversity is a big issue in our society and one that has been discussed for hundreds of years, so it will not be resolved in this one meeting. 

Instead, Brown claimed, “It is our responsibility to continue the conversation.”