Thursday, September 23, 2021

I Am An Ally creates dialogue about diversity

Co-Presidents Irving Arcinieg and Kristal Persaud held a group discussion with the focus on improving diversity issues on campus in the Amnesty Room located in the Angell College Center on Sept. 27. Co-Presidents Irving Arcinieg and Kristal Persaud held a group discussion with the focus on improving diversity issues on campus in the Amnesty Room located in the Angell College Center on Sept. 27.The event only attracted one student. That student being senior, economics and finance major Behnoosh Sethna.

As an international student from Pakistan, Sethna found it odd that Plattsburgh State held two separate orientations; one for American students, and another for international students. “I stayed my whole first semester with orientation friends who were international students.” Sethna said “I never got the opportunity to learn the culture (through interaction with Americans).

” She added how other universities that her friends attend keep American and international students together during orientation. She also mentioned that she did talk with the PSUC Housing and Residence office about the topic before, and it was the staff who explained that the reasoning behind the separate orientation groups has to do with restrictions student visas can have. One such restriction is for international students who plan to study under a F-1 or M-1 student visa. Those students must wait 30 days before the start of classes to enter the country.

The F-1 in particular is the most common student visa and is issued to students who come to the United States to study an academic program or to learn English as a second language. Sethna proposed the idea of having orientation later in the summer in order to accommodate students with F-1 visas and to bring students of different backgrounds together. The I am an Ally campaign was introduced to PSUC in the Campaign Planning and Development course last year.

Some projects students took on included a community outreach effort, where students would offer local businesses a vinyl decal sticker of the I am an Ally logo to let the Plattsburgh community know that these businesses support the cause. Twenty-one businesses ended up displaying the sticker. They also held a diversity fair. “It functioned like an involvement fair,” Persaud said “Each station had a dimension of diversity, such as socioeconomic class, race, privilege and then a club or organization would volunteer to inform students and advocate for issues.” Overall it was an informative experience Persaud said.

A challenge in improving diversity issues on campus mentioned by Arcinieg and Persuad had to do with taking students out of their comfort zones and not only have them make the effort to reach out to others that look different from them, but to continuously make that effort for lasting change and ultimately realizing that they have much more in common with each other than they think.

“We’re trying to get people to stick to each other and not just forget about it after that one interaction,” Arcinieg said. As the data gathering process continues for co-presidents Arcinieg and Persuad, they will continue to speak with PSUC students to help improve diversity relations on campus.

Email Fernando Alba at news@cardinalpointsonline.com

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