Diversity everywhere —New ASUI Director of Diversity to focus on safety, education, celebration
Sam Hansen, ASUI director of diversity, is easily recognized in the ASUI office as the girl with blue hair. Without it, she doesn’t feel like her best self.
“It’s like an amplifier for all the best parts of my personality,” Hansen said.
Hansen’s hair also exemplifies the concept of diversity that she hopes to spread throughout campus this year.
“Diversity is everyone. Every single person — even if they think that they are totally hooked into dominant culture — is diverse,” Hansen said. “You can’t have diversity without a dominant culture, so that in itself is diversity.”
Hansen said everyone should be encouraged to participate in diversity.
“You can’t have just a homogenous culture, especially not here. Diversity helps people enrich their lives because everyone comes from a different perspective, Hansen said. “People should embrace multiculturalism because … we get so tied up in race being the only form of diversity, but we know that’s not the case.”
Hansen’s goal for the year is to increase the visibility of diversity on campus through safety, education and celebration of diversity.
“When we’re still developing a multicultural identity I think that it’s really important to focus on safety first because when people disagree that’s when you end up with issues of safety,” Hansen said.
To address the issue of diversity safety, Hansen plans to promote and develop a policy that would require mandatory safety and sensitivity training for all incoming students. Hansen is working with the ASUI Senate Support Task Force and plans to work with university administration to develop this policy.
“It’s a pretty big policy push and a big project, but I’m really excited about it,” Hansen said.
Diversity education, the second component of Hansen’s goal, will likely take place in the spring in the form of an event based on Tunnel of Oppression, an interactive, visual-performance based tour that is focused on increasing education about oppression.
“(This event) happens very frequently in the university collegiate sphere,” Hansen said. “I’m expanding that to include all different kinds of campus stereotypes.”
Hansen said the event will focus on a broad spectrum of issues, but will be heavily focused on the campus community.
“It will be really relevant to what people are experiencing right now at U of I,” Hansen said. “Not just in general, but very specific. We’ll deal with Greek and non-Greek, athletic vs. non-athletic, body image, disabilities, racial identities, cultural identities and all of that.”
Hansen’s final goal for the year will be the celebration of diversity.
“I’m going to do a fun event called Festival of Color that is also pretty prominent in other universities and that is based on an Indian holiday called Holi,” Hansen said.
Hansen said the event is slated to take place in April.
“It’s really just a fun celebratory day where they throw paint and colored powder at each other and I thought, ‘you know, we don’t get a lot of representation of Asian cultures on campus and we have a Nepalese student association and an Indian association,’” Hansen said. “I decided to contact them and see how we could do this because it sounds like the most fun thing to do on a college campus.”
Hansen said the event will likely be hosted as a fundraiser for a local charity.
“We’ll have living groups buy colors and then we’ll also sell colors on the day so people can buy different colors,” Hansen said. “Basically the goal is to get as colorful as possible. That’ll be the fun side of diversity — increasing campus climate in a good way.”
Hansen said although her goals are large, she enjoys being busy and involved on campus, and is looking forward to being a part of ASUI this year.
“I was appointed in the spring for the fall, so I had all summer to think and plan and that’s what I did,” Hansen said.
Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at email@example.com