Ramapo community unites at Diversity Day

Diversity Day was held in Grove on Oct 6. by the Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Compliance to honor the differences and connections found in the identities of students, faculty and staff.

Associate Director of EDIC Rachel Sawyer-Walker gave an opening proclamation to welcome attendees. She played a large role in the planning process, and her care was obvious in her words and deeds.

“Diversity Day is about making sure that we’re celebrating different intersectionalities, bringing awareness to different backgrounds and really just being an inclusive community here at Ramapo,” she told The Ramapo News.

The atmosphere of community was strong. Students flocked to honor their identities, both cultural and related to the organizations present.

Maxianne Best, a junior and president of the Kappa Upsilon Chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, attended to support the Black Student Union and Greek Life. She was proud of the important message behind Diversity Day’s colorful decorations.

“It’s to show that students of color do belong on this campus, and also it’s to show all the diverse people who are in that group of ‘students of color.’ There’s not just one look,” Best said. “To be all here together shows the breadth of all the students.”

Amanda Giampaglia, a member of Ramapo’s Master of Arts in Special Education 4+1 Dual Certification program, came because she saw a connection between her degree and the event. “Right now I’m doing a lot of education work, and I feel like it’s important to learn about diversity as a future educator,” she said.

Everyone who attended had plenty to enjoy. Music and foods from various cultures tempted those passing by to linger. Performances by a stilt walker and a hula dancer captivated attendees’ attention. Organizations and clubs set up tables offering free stickers and information about their activities.

Staff from the George T. Potter Library spoke about the importance of showing up for Diversity Day. Shirley Knight, the reference, information, literacy and government documents librarian, said, “We are diverse — the library is diverse. This is what we do every day on a daily basis, and we’re always working with different people.”

Katie Cohen, interlibrary loan, reference and instruction librarian, gestured to the display of diverse literature at their table. “We have a lot of diverse resources at the library, so we wanted to promote them and let people know that we’re out [here] to support their interests,” she said.

During the festivities, EDIC promoted developments such as the opening of the Multicultural Center and the Oct. 27 discussion event about intersectionality set to be led by a Ramapo student. More details will be shared online in the near future.

However, Diversity Day is about more than just awareness. EDIC’s Program Assistant Jineane Miller Lajam said, “Not only do we highlight diversity today, but we also get to interact with students — if there are any issues they’ve been having, or any topics they want discussed, or any other program they want to happen on campus, this is our main reach-out day to hear back… They certainly are welcome to talk with us and we’ll help them co-sponsor it.”

Anyone interested in contacting EDIC can do so through their Instagram @rcnj_EDIC or their email diversity@ramapo.edu.



Photo by Jessica Hammer