Being a student at McMaster allows for an education in diversity.

A wide range of faculties and specializations, a campus with century-old architecture, and a central location in a popular city lend McMaster the potential to provide their students with a diverse knowledge of people, places and careers. But what resources are available to ensure that our students are well informed on modern diversity issues? What type of diversity is protected and promoted in our community?

“Diversity Week [is an] opportunity for dialogue, engagement, entertainment, equity, and ensuring that students feel like their different needs are being met,” explains Israa Ali, Director of Diversity Services.

Diversity Week is a series of events hosted by the MSU Diversity Services during the week of Jan. 13 - 17. The weeklong event has been on hiatus since 2007 when they were struck with the obstacle of downsizing. But with the organization’s 10 anniversary coming up this March, it seemed fitting to resurrect the tradition.

The student-run organization Diversity Services describes themselves as an “advocate for an inclusive environment in which all students feel welcome and free to embrace their identity,” according to their online mantra.

Abilities, Gender Equity, Indigenous Affairs, Interfaith, and Multiculturalism are the five pillars that unite Diversity into one unique term, according to the campus organization.

“The five pillars cover the different identities of students. By sharing those and shedding light on them, we’re allowing them to embrace their identity through that approach,” adds Ali.

Diversity Week has assigned each day of the week one of the five pillars, starting with Abilities on Monday, and ending with Multiculturalism on Friday.

Diversity seems to be an issue rooted in McMaster’s student body and current location, but encompassing ideas of equity and inclusivity may not always be at the forefront.

“This year we are trying to define what our partnership is with hospitality services over [Bridges] café,” says Ali.

Their first step in re-establishing a visible connection with the restaurant includes changing the current selection of posters.
“Although nice… they don’t really foster the inclusiveness and diversity, that the space is meant to promote,” she explains.

The vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant-café is labeled as a collaboration between Hospitality Services and Diversity Services. But aside from the Diversity office in the basement, there is no visible connection between the two. The organization is also looking to promote the diverse cuisine, including the selection of kosher foods, making it one of the only kosher-serving restaurants in Hamilton.

After Diversity Services’s full-time staff was eliminated a few years ago, their new part-time team has been working hard to ensure that the organization is well represented and making the most of their position.

Although a wide range of faculties and access to a popular city may emphasize a certain type of diversity, Diversity Services would like to see McMaster take a more serious step towards truly embracing the variety of identities and students on campus.

“We need to understand that diversity services, and anything related to equity and inclusiveness, really needs to have a bigger space on campus,” says Ali.

Diversity Week is the first step the organization is taking to create a larger space for equity issues. With a variety of events happening this week, hopefully our student community will take advantage of its diverse identities and work to embrace a new definition of diversity.

Photo by Eliza Pope / Assistant Photo Editor

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