On November 6, the Diversity Leadership Council hosted a guest speaker to talk about diversity and its relationship to Benedictine values. Organized in part by sophomore Tommy Melgoza, the guest speaker Mr. Karl Constant is the Assistant Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity at Benedictine University. Mr. Constant introduced and educated attendees on a wide variety of important topics and ideas surrounding diversity and its role on the college campus. Mr. Constant defined different words and concepts such as equity vs. equality, what his job entails, and how inclusivity has played a role in Benedictine University’s history. When Mr. Constant was asked how he would describe his role in bringing and educating BU students on diversity, he responded, “ [My] role is someone encouraging cross-culture learning through many types of programming.” Mr. Constant is an advocate for exposing yourself to culture in a variety of different ways, not only through food or travels. He brought these important aspects to the presentation and continued to elaborate, saying, “[I am] someone who helps people stretch their comfort zone.” Although this can sometimes be difficult as people disengage once they are uncomfortable, learning about cultures is a crucial way to keep people engaged. This type of learning is seen very often on a college campus such as Benedictine because of the many backgrounds and connections that are made.
When Mr. Constant was asked why respect for diversity is so similarly important at the high school level, he responded, “I personally think the acknowledgment and respect should start at a young age.” He continued and brought up an interesting but critical observation: if we are taught earlier “how to learn and respect about other people’s cultures, maybe [we] would have an easier time learning and respecting a culture that [we] were never exposed to.” This was a bold but powerful statement nonetheless. This meeting was extremely important to the DLC community because of the relevancy and large-scale effects it has on Benet students. Simply put, Mendoza and all of the members of DLC “hope that Benet feels like a home to all students…[so they] feel accepted and welcomed in all spaces and by their classmates.” This meeting was a great way to close the first semester and hopefully encourages many students to come to room M26 on Thursday mornings to see what DLC is all about!