TSG to address diversity

Student leaders seek to create a statement and diversity center.

TSG officials announced at Monday’s General Assembly meeting that the TUnity statement will be finalized on Oct. 28. Kara Milstein | TTN
TSG officials announced at Monday’s General Assembly meeting that the TUnity statement will be finalized on Oct. 28. Kara Milstein | TTN

Temple Student Government is drafting a unity statement with plans to release a final draft at the end of the month. The TUnity Statement, written by Jalen Blot, TSG’s director of campus life and diversity, aims to foster collaboration between students and tolerance of differences.

TSG administrators said the TUnity Statement will be amended into the Student Code of Conduct, be required for campus organizations to honor, included in class syllabi and will also be introduced during orientation for new students.

Blot said the first step in drafting the TUnity Statement involved contacting organizations on Main Campus. TSG held two roundtable dinners to pre-screen the concept and discuss what needed to be addressed in the statement.

“Having the opportunity to speak to different organizations and be educated about what needs to be acknowledged was very beneficial,” Blot said.

Once the TUnity Statement was drafted, it was posted to TSG’s website and sent to organizations like the Black Student Union, Asian Students Association, Queer People of Color and Asociacion de Estudiantes Latinos. This feedback period was for students and organizations to give constructive criticism and assist in the editing process.

“The initial draft was very passive because I didn’t know what the students wanted, so we made it in a more active voice,” Blot said.

TSG also sent the statement to administration and faculty.

“President Theobald was so supportive,” Student Body President Ray Smeriglio said. “He loved the language [of the statement].”

Another initiative in tandem with the TUnity Statement is a new IDEAL Center, which will be located on 2026 North Broad Street, said Rhonda Brown, the university’s associate vice president of the office of institutional diversity, equality, advocacy, and leadership.

It will be a space open to all students where they will be encouraged to ask questions, seek support and have conversations about diversity.

The new IDEAL center will be called “The Burrow” and  is spearheaded by Brown. The TUnity Statement will be posted in the center.

“When they enter the space, students agree to embody these principles,” Brown said. “They will hold each other to these standards.”

The director of students’ engagement will be a new position at “The Burrow” to support students who are seeking administrative assistance.

“Often students didn’t know where to go or who to talk to,” Brown said. “This position will be the face of diverse students on campus.”

The new facility will be designed to function like a living space, with a kitchen, a living room and a back yard. It will be available to all students.

“This is a necessary step in setting some guidelines that will inform our programming, will inform our actions and will inform our steps forward as a university,” Smeriglio said.

Lian Parsons can be reached at lian.parsons@temple.edu and on twitter @Lian_Parsons

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