“Diversity is a Numbers Game; Inclusion is Impact:” Recapping the 2022 Student-Led Diversity Panel

Harley Marks, Opinions Section Co-Editor

On Monday, Sept. 26, Bucknell Advocates for Diversity (B.A.D.) and First-Year Experience & Orientation hosted the first-ever Student-Led Diversity Panel. Despite the event being marketed primarily towards first-years, the entire Bucknell student body had the privilege of hearing the experiences of seven diverse student panelists. 

 

I attended this panel with the intention of writing about it; I was listening for any particularly insightful thoughts or phrases. What I found was that everything the panelists shared was equally moving and powerful. I wish I could include everything they said in this piece, but unfortunately I am limited in word count.

 

There was one statement that stood out to me. Somtochi Ojiaku ’25 said something so incredibly commanding that it inspired the title of this article. She said, “Diversity is a numbers game; inclusion is impact.” 

 

Inspired is not a strong enough word to represent the feeling I had listening to the vulnerability and wisdom of these panelists. The audience heard the students’ personal experiences on Bucknell’s campus with regards to their identity and learned how we as a campus community have the power to either reinforce harmful stereotypes or create a community of support and inclusion.

 

The panelists, Iona Pitkin ’25 (she/her/hers/they/them/theirs), Miguel Camacho ’25 (he/him), Ibrahim Ware ’24 (he/him), Gabby Diaz ’25 (she/her), Minh Tran ’25 (she/her), Somtochi Ojiaku ’25 (she/her) and Camoni Mullins ’25 (she/her), provided insight into what the realities for queer, Latin, Muslim, first-generation, lower income, Vietnamese, African-American, Catholic and Christian students are at Bucknell. 

 

When asked, “How did you feel when you came to campus? Did you have any expectations, and how did they change over time?” Minh Tran answered from the perspective of an international student, saying, “I was scared because there’s been a trend of Asian hate, Asian discrimination, but through my time here at Bucknell I’ve found my community, I have found resources to help me overcome a lot of challenges thanks to my VSA [Vietnamese Student Association] group as well as a lot of other Asian awareness organizations on campus.”

 

The general consensus from our panelists was that Bucknell is a very intimidating place for anyone who doesn’t identify as white or male. The time leading up to move-in is a scary experience for all incoming first-years, but this feeling is intensified when you know that you are walking into a space where you either don’t know how to relate to the majority of the student body, or you have to hide the very identifiers that make you unique and special because white people can’t handle them.

 

It is important to find your safe spaces and communities on campus, or as Pitkin coined them, your “pockets of love.” They are present at Bucknell, but it may take a little extra work to find them.

 

Ojiaku said, “Engineering is a predominantly white male dominated major. If I’m expressing my struggles in class (because I didn’t have the same resources in high school), they will say, ‘just work harder.’” 

 

Just work harder. What does this imply? This implies that the people on this campus have preconceived notions about minorities that they aren’t willing to unlearn. Diaz alluded to this idea when she said, “For me, I feel like most of the conversations that I have regarding race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender identity, all of these different identities, occur in a classroom setting. It doesn’t necessarily happen outside unless it’s talking to other students of color.”

 

The problem with only having conversations in the classroom is that the classroom is not always a welcoming environment for minorities, especially when you’re sitting in a room filled with white men. The onus shouldn’t be placed on the members of marginalized groups to educate their oppressors on how to be better. The responsibility to learn, be better, and do better is in the hands of the oppressor.

 

Every panelist put things into a new perspective for audience members; I wish I could quote them all. I urge all of you readers to check out Bucknell’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion web page for access to resources related to anti-racism, accessibility, LGBTQ, religious and spiritual life, international students, and more.

 

I am confident that the entire audience left the Weis Center more informed and equipped to reflect on the impact that the lack of (and presence of) diversity and inclusion has on this campus. 

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