Butler community comes together to attend Joint Struggle, Joy and Solidarity event. Photo courtesy of Efroymson Diversity Center.
GABI MORANDO | NEWS CO-EDITOR | firstname.lastname@example.org
“This is a night of unity, acknowledgement, celebration and reflection,” Randall Ojeda, director of the Efroymson Diversity Center, said in his address during the Joint Struggle, Joy and Solidarity event on Nov. 8.
14 organizations affiliated with the Diversity Center filled the Reilly Room to celebrate and come together in solidarity over shared oppressive experiences and narratives. A collaboration between the established diversity-centered organizations on campus, the event was the first of its kind.
“The mission tonight [was] to find unity in the challenges that students have experienced, that cultures have experienced, and to celebrate the resilience that exists there and to also showcase the beauty of diversity,” Ojeda said. “We talk about diversity a lot, but we forget to share that it’s an amazing thing, not necessarily an obligation or something that people feel overwhelmed by. There’s a lot of beauty in looking around and seeing things different than you because it helps all of us grow.”
Student leaders from each organization stood proudly behind tables that lined the walls of the room while engaging in conversation with peers, faculty and staff alike. Organization representatives also made sure to visit the other student groups present.
Andre Hardy, senior criminology and sociology double major and president of Butler Alliance, said the night was important to foster allyship and inclusivity in the Butler community.
“It’s amazing to have everybody come together,” Hardy said. “All of the students and [organizations] can get a perspective of everyone’s culture, sexuality, gender, religion and just in a small way, get a taste of everything through food, art or through anything else.”
Groups of students scanned a code at the door to earn a Butler Cultural Requirement, BCR, credit before bouncing from table to table being offered cultural foods and drinks, stickers and fidget toys.
Sophomore elementary education major Jayla Cromwell sat at a table in the middle of the room with a pink Japanese Ramune soda in front of her. Cromwell said it was important for her to be able to support and also educate herself about the student groups housed in the Diversity Center.
“The name just screamed to me that I needed to be here,” Cromwell said. “As a student of color at Butler, I just feel like we’re all in this together and just to learn about the diversity at Butler helps me … acknowledge and appreciate it.”
Along with education, the night also served as a place to advocate.
Jaret Camargo is a sophomore psychology major and the communication strategist for the LatinX Student Union. With friends and other student leaders at his side, Camargo took the chance to speak about his culture in ways he had not done before.
“It feels really inspiring [to be here],” Camargo said. “I also feel like I’m advocating for something that I didn’t really do much for in previous schooling like in elementary and middle school ‘cause growing up in a majority white neighborhood, it felt really suppressing and a little silencing.”
In between the time spent bouncing from tables, students, faculty and staff also heard stories and speeches from various speakers including Ojeda, a community member from Jewish Voice for Peace affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine, Sarah Blade of Butler Advocates for Autism, Sadia Khatri of Muslim Student Association and Meet Patel of the South Asian Student Association, SASA.
The night ended with dance performances from members of both Students for Justice in Palestine and SASA. Audience members gathered towards the front of the Reilly Room nodding their heads and clapping to the music.
Emma Weigand, junior marketing major and president of the Asian and Pacific Islander Alliance, stood behind her booth while looking out into the crowd of people.
“It just is really meaningful to be able to collaborate with all the rest of the Diversity Center organizations to be here all in one room together and have the same focus of wanting solidarity and understanding the struggles we go through as a community,” Weigand said.