Last week, we were ecstatic about the unanimous passage of our resolution that called upon administration to directly address the issue of hate and bias on our campus by developing standard policies to address it. Unfortunately, this excitement was short-lived; yet another act of hate occurred in our community. Regardless of the motivations for these acts, their impact is damaging and widely felt. It’s not strictly the words or the symbols of these acts that cause harm, but rather, the message that they convey. In the current national climate, our country is divided on multiple fronts as national leaders are singling out groups of people based on race, sexual orientation and gender identity; in other words, people are constantly judged on major facets of their identity. However, we must rise above the ideologies that seek to differentiate and divide us.
Here on the Equity & Outreach Committee, we know that one identity we all have in common is our humanity. We are all human. Of course, we each reflect the variations, both physical and mental, that encapsulate the human experience. This one point of commonality should be sufficient for all of us to treat each other with respect—treat each other equitably. Of course, it is naive to assume that our humanity alone can save us from the divisive rhetoric that has been ingrained in us from the day we entered this society, but it is realistic to believe that our humanity can at least enable us to treat one another with compassion. This humanity should provide us the ability to openly talk with one another, even if we don’t look the same, and hear out others and understand their experiences. If we understand each other’s experiences of judgement as a result of the negative aspects of humanity, then we can reconcile our differences by using the compassion and empathy that also exist within our humanity. Furthermore, we can use our understanding of others’ experiences to change the culture of our university from within by openly accepting those around us, and respecting them on the grounds of our shared humanity. While there is obviously plenty of work to be done to help our peers reconcile themselves with one another and move towards becoming an ideal community that is truly inclusive and equitable for all, we can all take the first step towards approaching that ideal by reaching out to one another and treating each other with respect and as humans.
The Equity and Outreach Committee of Duke Student Government is tasked with enhancing a respectful and inclusive work and learning environment for the university. As members of this committee, we have grappled with the fact that our work is not always able to produce immediate, tangible effects in our community, yet we remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission. We recognize that there is often an undue burden on the students who are on the receiving end of hate and bias motivated incidents to spread awareness on issues of inequity on campus. To those students, we thank you for your resilience in the face of such incidents and understand that there is only so much an individual can withstand. We do not expect, and the university should not expect, for these students to continuously provide the free labor of single-handedly educating the Duke community about their experiences.
In the face of adversity, we intend to carry out our mission to the best of our abilities, and we invite y’all to let us know what’s pissing you off regarding the state of inequity on campus. We will be having open committee meetings the first Thursday of every month at 8 p.m. in the DSG office in the Bryan Center, and we welcome/encourage students emailing us in advance to schedule a conversation at any other time. If you’d prefer to submit comments anonymously, you can use this Google form to let us know what’s pissing you off.
DSG E&O 2018-2019 Committee
The following students are members of the DSG Equity and Outreach committee. Adam Bullock is a Trinity senior. Daisy Almonte and Sujeiry Jimenez are Trinity juniors. Maya King and De'Ja Wood are a Trinity sophomores. Shirley Mathur, Nehal Jain, Christina Wang and Victoria Pinedo are Trinity first-years.