Student of color working group nurtures change and inclusivity on campus

Cambrell Davis, Staff Writer

On October 4, 2019, President of the Student of Color Working Group, Taylor Heggins, talked about the purpose, benefits, and expectations of the revitalized group and what they hope to accomplish over the next year.

During the interview, things were going great with a little small talk before the start of the real in-depth questions. Heggins seemed very excited to do the interview, and she said it was perfect timing, since their application process is open until September 30.

The interview started off with the most important question, what is the Student of Color Working Group? Heggins responded, “It’s a student working group overseen by two advisors that… works to identify and find solutions for areas of growth regarding race and diversity on AIC campus, including finding campus partners from different departments.”

“This group’s purpose is to work to build a more inclusive campus for students, specifically of black and brown colors. Having students of different backgrounds who are involved in different things on campus brings a unique perspective and insight on areas of growth that may not have been previously identified. This being said, students involved in the working group have the ability to share different stories that are unique to their experience at AIC, and to work to improve less desirable things from continuing to happen,” Heggins continued.

 As the talk proceeded, the topic of short-term and long-term goals came up. “Some of our short-term goals include finding campus partners that are passionate about diversity education and building an all-around inclusive campus for AIC’s black and brown students,” Heggins said.

“Other goals include identifying areas for growth and creating solutions for these problematic areas. A long-term goal is to create an understanding around the campus that inclusion for students of color is something that needs to continuously be worked on. In the 2018-2019 academic year, 56% of AIC’s campus identified themselves as students of color, so it is important to make these students feel valued and supported through all means. Another important goal is to see changes being made based on a list of suggestions that we will submit for different departmental areas on campus.”

Heggins wants to make this campus inclusive, and she has the numbers to back her up. The working group understand that it is important for students to have people around who will be there and who will be supportive.

During the interview, applicant Jevon Smith came in and talked about the group, and what potential applicants can get out of it. “The main benefit of participating in this working group,” Smith said, “is having the opportunity to voice your opinion and share ideas for areas of growth that are specific to things you would like to see be improved upon on campus. Participating in this work can also lead to building stronger relationships with different important campus leaders, along with being a great addition to any resume. Lastly, there is also currently a scholarship being awarded to students that dedicate their time towards working to build a better and more inclusive campus.” Smith explained.

“This group can help create many opportunities for other students of color on campus. [I’m] not singling out anyone else, but it is good to be around people who have been through the same walk of life as you and you can talk about both experiences.” Smith hopes to be accepted into this working group and is happy to be a part of such a team.

As the conversation was wrapping up, both Heggins and Smith were ecstatic about the group coming together and getting ready to run. They talked about what they wanted to accomplish and what they really wanted to do this year.

My goal for this group is to change the culture of AIC in the long term. In the long and short term, I want students of color to feel like they are seen on an equal playing field in class, living quarters, clubs/ organizations, and sports as their fair-skinned counterparts. I want to eventually see a staff and faculty that look like our black and brown students and who can relate to different difficulties that they may face. I want to work towards AIC becoming a welcoming space where all students naturally feel included,” said Heggins.

Smith’s closing words to students were, “You should take this opportunity and run, because you will not always have one like this. It is important that we stay together and support one another.” It is important to take opportunities and never take them for granted. This group seems like it has a lot to offer and you can benefit from it.