Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Student groups promote diversity

In recent semesters, a plethora of new student organizations promoting diversity have sprung up on campus and existing groups have found renewed purpose. These grassroots campaigns work to address specific issues in diversity alongside some of the longtime diversity organizations on campus.

“I believe these organizations [are] evidence of the passion and commitment [that] students at The University of Alabama have for moving forward on issues related to diversity on campus,” Lane McLelland, director of Crossroads Community Center, said.

Some organizations have partnered through the Crossroads Community Center. The center implemented two initiatives this spring, Sustained Dialogue and Better Together, that encourage existing student organizations to collaborate and engage their differences and strengths for improving community life on campus and in the surrounding areas, McLelland said.

“Among the 11 Sustained Dialogue groups being conducted on campus this spring, one is specifically focusing on how student organizations can be more effective and collaborative,” McLelland said. “We are looking forward to hearing the action ideas this group comes up with after dialoguing about this very issue.”

Spread out across campus, new and well-established groups tackle diversity issues in various ways. They range from small to large, and most operate as separate entities with separate leadership.


UA Stands

An immediate response to allegations about racial discrimination in the Greek system in the fall, University students organized a march from the steps of Gorgas Library across the Quad to the steps of Rose Administration. The event titled “UA Stands” was a collaboration Greek and non-Greek students.

Michelle Fuentes, a graduate student who helped advise the student organizers of the event, said she is proud of the undergraduates who came together for the march.

“UA Stands started a conversation which is being sustained by many other new organizations on campus,” Fuentes said. “It’s a good thing that new organizations have popped up to continue that conversation. The event was such a learning opportunity, and continuing to learn from that is the most that we can ask for on a college campus especially.”



Students for Open Doors and Ethical Leadership was created last fall and has its own personal brand when it comes to addressing campus diversity. The organization acts without official leadership and without a specific agenda, executive director Ross Green said. Instead, SODEL provides a forum-type assembly for students, faculty and staff, where they can create a dialogue about campus diversity.

Green said SODEL also seeks to reduce redundancies among the groups and that he often meets informally with representatives from other organizations to help ensure this. Having groups from several different sects of campus is a positive thing, he added.

“If there was just one conglomerate, there’s no way that you’d be able to represent all the different sides of the issue,” Green said.


BLEND also takes a new approach to address diversity on campus. The group hosts luncheons every Thursday that are open to all students, faculty and administrators. The purpose of the lunches is not to pair individuals together for conversation, but to allow willing participants to have meaningful, fun discussions on their own terms, secretary Velmatsu Lewis said. Four students founded BLEND last fall in a joint effort to help end sorority segregation, Lewis said. This focus later expanded to include bringing people from diverse backgrounds together.

“Blend lunches allow for students to meet and talk to people they may never have [had] the chance to meet on campus,” Lewis said.

In the future, BLEND hopes to expand beyond the weekly lunches and host different events on campus, as well as partner with other organizations.



Founded last summer by a Student Government Association initiative, the program 2+2 also promotes campus-wide diversity. The first meeting will be Feb. 27 at Starbucks with another meeting March 5. Participants will be encouraged to familiarize themselves with their peers without preconceived notions, Brielle Appelbaum, SGA chief implementation officer, said.

Participants will be introduced in pairs, and will get to know each other with coffee as a common ground. Appelbaum said the coffee shop will act as a neutral meeting place for participants and remove some of the social anxieties that come with making new friends. SGA members, as well as students and faculty, will attend meetings.

“We cannot grow as a community unless we begin to define our community, and that starts by making new friends and forging meaningful relationships across our campus,” Appelbaum said.


Diverse Desserts

Diverse Desserts, which was established in Fall 2012 through the Honors College Assembly, brings its participants together by mixing dialogue with sweets. The organization fosters conversations among diverse groups on campus. Co-founder Al-Karim Gilani said the fact that organizations promoting diversity are spread across campus is not a bad thing, as they can reach more people throughout the UA community.

“Organizations that have the same goals should actively collaborate to further their joint missions,” Gilani said. “Such collaboration, especially on a campus of our size, is integral to successful initiatives.”

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