Students gathered in the Shepherd Union Atrium Thursday morning to celebrate Diversity Day with student government and the Center for Diversity and Unity.
The sponsors set up a wheel-spin with rainbow colors and invited Weber State University students to spin and answer a question about diversity. Students who answered the questions correctly were entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift card to the WSU Bookstore. Spinners who landed on purple, though, got to throw darts at balloons and put their names in the drawing three times if they popped one.
“We asked some questions with specific answers and other open-ended questions,” said Lonald Wishom, vice president of diversity at WSU.
“For example, we asked, ‘How do our own prejudices impact our lives and our relationships with others?’” Wishom said. “Most of the time when people think of prejudices, they think, ‘I don’t want to admit to being racist, so I don’t want to say anything,’ but we told them that it wasn’t just about race. It could be prejudices about people who are a different religion or older or overweight. And then they opened up.”
Wishom said that asking these questions is the only way people will learn to talk about diversity.
“The reason I wanted to have a kind of fair theme was because, to be quite frank, with diversity, you have to talk about things that make people uncomfortable and challenge their views and expand their minds,” Wishom said. “A lot of times people don’t want that.”
Volunteers also handed out information about how students can get involved at the Center for Diversity and Unity and about upcoming events. Some of those events include Munch-N-March on Jan. 16, the Gospel Music Festival on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. at WSU, and “a discussion about dependence on foreign oil and how it impacts our relationships with people from the Middle East,” Wishom said.
Adrienne Gillespie, director of the Center for Diversity and Unity, said there are many ways students can get involved with diversity on campus.
“We have Diversity Board meetings every Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., and they’re always open to everyone,” Gillespie said. “We also have a few positions open on the Diversity Board that students can apply for by coming into the center. A lot of times, students also come to us with ideas for events, then we plan around their ideas, like with the Autism Spectrum last spring.”
Wishom and Gillespie both agreed that learning about diversity was particularly beneficial for college students.
“I think that anything that forces you to think outside of just your own views and forces you to ask, ‘How might this other person feel?’, anything that might force you to put yourself in other people’s shoes will benefit students in any type of situation,” Wishom said.
Gillespie said students need to appreciate diversity and the ways it benefits all members of any society.
“I think I’m pretty awesome, but I don’t want a world filled with people just like me,” Gillespie said. “The center is a place where we all get to learn something and we all get to teach something.”
WSU senior Tyler Wallace spun the wheel in between classes.
“I didn’t really know anything about the Diversity Center before today,” Wallace said, “but now that I do, I’m hoping to attend some of their events.”