Karly Krasnow / Sun Staff Photographer

Students propose solutions for issues facing undergraduates at Willard Straight Hall, Tuesday night.

March 3, 2016

Students Discuss Diversity, Inclusion at ‘Act On It’ Event

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At a small group discussion event titled “Act On It,” members of the Cornell community gathered to discuss diversity and inclusion, the affordability of a Cornell education and sexual assault in Willard Straight Hall Tuesday.

As a follow up to “Speak About It” — a community town hall that took place late last spring — “Act On It” brought students together once again to share their thoughts on possible practical solutions to these issues, according to the event’s Facebook page.

Maria Jiang ’16, an organizer for “Act On It,” said attending “Speak About It” motivated her to plan a new event.

“At ‘Speak About It,’ I was really inspired by all of the cross-community dialogue that was happening,” Jiang said. “There were a lot of administrative and student intersectionalities.”

Julia Montejo ’17, one of the predesignated facilitators, headed the discussion on affordability and access. As an undocumented student, Montejo said she felt a strong personal resonance with the topic.

“For me, being engaged in these types of dialogues is extremely important so that we can meet students across campus who face a lot of these issues in different ways,” Montejo said. “I think that in any form of student advocacy or student engagement there has to be that cooperation among students of all communities.”

Kartik Ramkumar ’16, another facilitator, said he was also moved to participate in “Act On It” after his experience with “Speak About It,” which he said he felt created a good dialogue, but lacked a well-defined path to addressing the issues raised.

“I really wanted to take a step towards action,” Ramkumar said.

Ramkumar said he especially appreciated hearing different viewpoints at “Speak About It.”

“It was really great to hear from a lot of different perspectives,” he said. “I found it very interesting to hear from a South Asian student who wasn’t heavily involved with South Asian groups on campus, for example.”

Jiang highlighted the key role that the facilitators, such as Ramkumar and Montejo, play in making events of this type a success.

“At the end of the day, this event is really successful because of the facilitators,” Jiang said. “They do a lot of work within their respective organizations to really bring people together.”

Ramkumar added that he hopes similar events will carry on the work of “Speak About It” and “Act On It.”

“I feel like these events should happen again with different topics,” Ramkumar said. “Dialogue is always an answer.”