The Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management hosted a reception on Tuesday with over 40 people, showcasing the results of “My Story, Our Story” picture campaign. This campaign, part of Dyson’s inaugural diversity week, aimed to highlight the diversity and identities of Cornell students, staff and faculty.
The photo campaign featured participants holding white cards where they wrote a word or phrase representing a meaningful experience or part of their lives, as The Sun previously reported. The cards were collected and displayed on a wall in Warren Hall.
President Martha E. Pollack and Lynn Perry Wooten, dean of the Dyson school, were among the 314 people who participated in the photo campaign. On her card, Pollack wrote, “You belong at Cornell,” while Wooten’s card stated, “It takes a village.”
During her speech at the reception, Wooten shared personal experiences of the “villages” she grew up in and their influences on her life, from her mother’s friends to her classmates and teachers in school.
“There was always a village supporting me. When I first moved to Cornell 18 months ago, everyone was so welcoming,” Wooten told The Sun, naming Cornell as one of her “villages.”
Following Wooten’s speech, a seven-minute video showed compilations of the campaign participants with their cards. The words and phrases on the cards ranged from “Family” and “Black excellence” to “Behavioral economics” and “Dance.”
The photo campaign was organized by a new student organization, the Dyson Students of Color Coalition. The group was created in response to what the founders believed was a lack of support for students of color in the school.
“We wanted to make a community we didn’t have when we got here,” Michelle Reiss ’20, co-founder of DSCC, told The Sun. “Diversity week was something that needed to be done. We wanted to show people we’re here.”
In 2017, students raised concerns about a perceived lack of resources for some students of color in Dyson, the socio-economic barriers to joining business clubs and a deficiency of diversity-related course requirements, The Sun previously reported.
The business club culture especially concerned DSCC co-founder Jennifer Laura ’20. DSCC tries to help its members with resumes, interviews tips and internships.
“We try to help members with anything,” Laura told The Sun. “Even getting a suit to wear, which I struggled with before.”
At the reception, DSCC co-founders also shared their cards and the stories behind them. One co-founder, Joseph Olalusi ’19, wrote “follow through + effort” on his card, attributing his success to these factors.
“Being here, it didn’t feel like I was capable,” Olalusi said, but added that he was “able to [succeed in school]. A black man from Chicago.”