The Collegian
Sunday, October 25, 2020

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First UR Equity Summit aims to spark discussion

<p>Whitehurst, the seat of Richmond College, overlooks many of the residence and academic buildings.</p>

Whitehurst, the seat of Richmond College, overlooks many of the residence and academic buildings.

The University of Richmond Equity Summit was held for the first time via Zoom on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, covering a range of topics intended to inspire equitable change across campus, according to its Instagram page.

Senior Hijab Fatima and junior Tommy Na organized the discussions, which covered topics such as LGBTQIA+, xenophobia, violence prevention, antisemitism, white privilege and Africana studies, according to the Instagram page.

Lina Tori Jan, UR '20, first came up with the idea for the Equity Summit, Fatima said. Jan came up with the idea following the racist and xenophobic incidents at UR in January. The summit was originally supposed to happen in April but was postponed because of COVID-19. 

Over the summer, Na and Fatima restarted the planning for the summit, with help from political science professor Monti Datta, Fatima said. The three of them went on to recruit student leaders who would work alongside Fatima and Na and act as co-facilitators for the sessions, Fatima said.

More than 100 members of a variety of UR student organizations were in attendance throughout the sessions, including members from SpiderBoard, University Dancers, Richmond Honor Council and Changing Health Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls, better known as CHAARG, according to the Equity Summit's Instagram page. 

Senior Alejandra De Leon, treasurer of CHAARG, represented the health and wellness club at the summit. De Leon said CHAARG was attending the summit to be a part of the discussion to promote a more inclusive environment within their organization.

“I hope to be able to talk about how change can come to be more inclusive and implement that in CHAARG, as we are committed to being an inclusive community for all people and be active in cultivating an inclusive campus culture,” De Leon said. 

Fatima said that her overall hope for the summit was to change UR’s campus culture, especially what she viewed as its hallmark: everyone being aware of an issue but remaining quiet about it.

Fatima said this discussion was very personal to her because she identified as a member of a minority group on UR's campus.

“Being a minority on this campus, when those racist and xenophobic events happened last January, they suddenly took my sense of security away as well as from my fellow peers,” Fatima said.

Through the Equity Summit, Fatima hopes that students and members of UR’s community will begin to realize that college can be a chance to make a difference and inspire those around you, she said.

“This campus, this world needs you and your leadership and courage,”she said as a reminder to the student body.

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Contact news writer Liv Ronca at liv.ronca@richmond.edu.

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