Panel discusses importance of diversity

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Photo Credit: Ramya Srikanth | Daily Texan Staff

Two organizations from Student Government, Muslim Student Association and Queer & Trans Students Alliance gathered in a panel Wednesday to emphasize the importance of diversity at UT. 

The panel was part of the Diversity and Inclusion Agency’s first ever Diversity Mini-Week, which aims to open conversation for all students, regardless of background. 

Architecture senior Omar Salim, president of the Muslim Student Association, said college is a time for students to discover their self-identity and learn to embrace it.

“Sometimes it’s troubling to see this fragmentation between different organizations, but there’s also this flip side where people find their identity,” Salim said. “I think it’s important for us to encourage each other and find each other first and then feed off of each other’s energy.”

The panelists included psychology senior Thanh Bui and philosophy senior Adit Bior, who reinforced diverse identities within different campus communities and how they serve as a safe space for students from different backgrounds.

“For me as an Asian studying Liberal Arts, being in spaces where my type of body doesn’t seem to belong, that’s very tiring for me, just knowing that I need to be constantly speaking for my people,” Bui said. “I like knowing I have a community to fall back on later.”

Another panelist, economics and finance senior Santiago Rosales, said diversity is an integral part of student identities, even if students don’t actively go out looking for communities that relate with their culture.

“There are times where you’ll be tired at the end of the day and you want to be around people like you,” Rosales said. “Sometimes you want people who know what you grew up watching, the movies, the music, the culture.” 

Chemical engineering senior Juan Otero was another panelist and said he advocates for students who speak up for their needs in relation to discrimination.

“I say you protest, rally, scream, shout, demand the University take action,” Otero said. “We need to show them when we are not happy because nothing is going to change as long as the majority is (happy).”

International relations junior Karla Chavez, Diversity and Inclusion Agency director, said the week showed how diversity truly is a strength. 

“We are all longhorns but we are also more than that,” Chavez said. “We come from so many different places, and it’s important for us to be proud of our diversity rather than see that as a threat.”