You belong here: Celebrating diversity


Chris Ferman

Sophomore Grisma Niraula hosts the Nepali Student Organization table at the Campus-Wide Diversity Celebration on Friday, April 29, 2022.

Kayla Palliser

From “Take Back The Night” to “Filipino Culture Fest,” student and faculty coordinators worked hard to showcase the importance of diversity with a week of activities bringing education and celebration together. Diversity Week took place April 24-30 and featured events hosted by various offices and campus organizations. 

Diversity Week was first introduced in 2019. Certain events, such as the Diversity Celebration which features a diversity fair, will remain constant while other events change as groups find different ways to showcase what makes them unique. 

The Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity (OSID) leads Diversity Week, but each event is hosted by a different group. This year’s theme was “You Belong Here,” named after the You Belong Here lounge outside the OSID office.

According to junior Tristyn Escobedo, a PACE Mentor and former vice president of Latinx Unidos, Diversity Week finds ways to bring people together and foster curiosity so students are inspired to learn about all the different cultures represented on campus.

“There are required diversity events that people in Greek Life have to go to. But then the question is: How can we get people interested in talking about diversity without it being a requirement?” Escobedo said. “Diversity Week’s goal is to interest people enough in the events that are happening to make them come so they can learn more.”

Once students become more educated about diversity, they can not only discuss it more intelligently and speak up about issues cultural groups face, but also celebrate those cultures. Diversity covers more than just race or ethnicity. It includes gender, ability, religion, sexual orientation and many other aspects which make up our identities. Because diversity is so fundamental to our lives, OSID Director Ashley Allen works to include groups all across campus in Diversity Week events.

“Diversity and inclusion are important as an institution, so having different offices and organizations be a part of that shows that it takes everyone to create this inclusive place at Augustana,” Allen said. OSID is responsible for bringing these groups together and trusts them to share their voices in the best ways they can.

The groups involved in planning events are not limited to campus. “A lot of times we try to have not just Augustana offices, but invite the community to be a part of this week,” Allen said.

This year, one of these community groups is the Quad Cities’ Pride in Memory Project. This project serves to record stories of resilience from senior citizens in the LGBTQ+ community and preserve their legacy for future generations.

Several Augustana students are involved in this project by conducting interviews and compiling information. More students are welcome to get involved by contacting Dr. Christopher Strunk, associate professor of geography and coordinator of Latin American studies. Augustana alumnus Don Faust, class of 1985, is also a member of this project.

“Everybody’s journey is unique,” Faust said. “I think it’s so important to have resources, places to go, people to talk to, books to read, to cry and laugh and do all of those things.”

Augustana’s efforts for diversity go beyond the classroom, bringing students and community members together toward the common goals of education and inclusion. Diversity Week showcases groups who work toward these goals year-round.

To learn more about how to be more involved in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on campus, visit the OSID office, talk to any cultural group leaders or email Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Monica Smith. Everyone and anyone is welcome to reach out.

“No matter who you are, no matter what you bring to Augustana, you belong here,” Allen said.