Let’s Talk: Graduate Student Diversity Wellness Event

On December 3, 2013 by Grad Forum
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Students talk during the Graduate Student Diversity Wellness Event.

On Friday, November 15, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) hosted an event titled, “Let’s Talk: Graduate Student Diversity Wellness,” to raise awareness and responsiveness regarding diversity in the graduate student body. The event was held in Haldeman.

Three graduate students shared personal experiences and offered suggestions to cultivate a welcoming campus climate where diversity in race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and sexuality could flourish. Following each talk, Meg Menon (GSC student life chair), moderated an informal group discussion amongst the 20 attendees on topics raised by the speakers.

Gilbert Rahme, a molecular and cellular biology PhD candidate, co-president of the International Graduate Mentoring Program (IGMP), and president of the Dartmouth Graduate Outing Club (DGOC), discussed the various international student experiences at Dartmouth. Rahme, who moved to the Upper Valley from Beirut, Lebanon, provided pertinent insights into the language and cultural barriers that international students tend to face. The IGMP works to bridge the cultural divide by pairing American student mentors with international student mentees.

Mariah Williams, first-year Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) student, explored the intersection between race and gender. In the ensuing discussion, participants highlighted their personal challenges in addressing racial differences and in dealing with stereotypes, gender- and race-related privilege, and guilt. Nicholas Graham (MALS), a graduate participant, reflected that he “found it rewarding to see how diverse perspectives impact our lives, and to hear how we, graduate students at Dartmouth College, view each other through our own lived experiences.”

Kristopher Shultz, MALS student and the adaptive technology assistant in Student Accessibility Services, described on-going challenges in cultivating LGBTQ+ wellness at Dartmouth and throughout the Upper Valley. He advocated for an inclusive and collaborative network that would help bring together important resources and foster a genuine sense of community.

Commenting on the group conversations, graduate student Jackson Shultz (MALS) said, “The speakers were eloquent and passionate and brought up issues that often go ignored or unspoken on campus. It is vital that we take opportunities, such as forums of this nature, to listen to students’ concerns and take positive steps to make campus safer and more equitable for everyone.” Kristopher Shultz and Jackson Shultz are founders of the Upper Valley Rainbow Connection.

Jaira Harrington, PhD candidate in political science at the University of Chicago and the 2012-13 Thurgood Marshall Fellow at Dartmouth, was also among the attendees. Harrington noted, “‘Let’s Talk’ was a great starting point for conversations on race, gender, international status and sexuality. Looking to the future, I believe the challenge is to think broadly about what ‘diversity’ means and complicate our discussions to address how identities can also be unstable categories that may shift, intersect, and/or intertwine.”

Hopefully the Graduate Student Council’s “Let’s Talk” discussion serves as the first of many events that will encourage honest, courageous, and constructive conversations around issues of diversity, inclusivity, and community at Dartmouth.

by Meg Menon

photo by Meg Menon

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