Staff Editorial: Inclusion and acceptance — Celebrations of diversity at Guilford

During the college search and application process, many students consider a school’s diversity as a key factor in their college decision, whether that diversity is in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion or ability. Diversity is listed on Guilford College’s website as one of seven core values that shape the College’s mission and vision. But how is this commitment to diversity reflected on Guilford’s campus?

Guilford’s Intercultural Engagement Center houses various programs designed to support all students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds.

Included within the IEC is the Baynard Rustin Center, which affirms and supports Guilford students and staff who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The IEC’s Multicultural Leadership Scholarship Program (MLSP) is a year-long experience that engages students in a variety of trainings, workshops, discussions and projects to help increase their understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion. The nonprofit organization “Soy un Lider”, also housed within the IEC, aims to inspire and provide resources to Latinx, refugee, immigrant and other international students, culminating in an annual day-long conference.

Krishauna Hines Gaither, the director of the IEC and associate vice president of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, advises students to consider their own positions of privilege and to acknowledge systems of oppression and power in order to promote diversity.

“It is helpful if students consider their sphere of influence and where they may be able to use their relationships to build an inclusive community by refusing to tolerate hatred and oppression,” Hines-Gaither adds.

The Guilford community also seeks to include and empower students with disabilities. Through the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) students can request accommodations and other resources which help to ensure equal opportunities in the classroom and beyond. Kristie Wyatt, the assistant director of the ARC, says that students with disabilities are an important part of the Guilford community.

“These students bring a diverse level of abilities and affiliations. At the same time, they also experience discrimination and barriers at a higher level than their peers without disabilities,” Wyatt says. “I believe that everyone should educate themselves on disability rights, how to create a welcoming and accessible environment for all students (from parties to group activities). Students also have an important role in advocating for themselves and each other.”

In addition to college-instituted offices and programs, student clubs provide safe spaces for students to embrace their differences.

Senior Maya Walfall, president of Guilford’s Black Student Union (BSU), emphasizes the club’s efforts to create a sense of belonging for students of color at a predominantly white institution (PWI).

“One of the hardest things about being at a PWI while being a person of color is feeling like this isn’t actually a space for you,” Walfall explaines. “BSU mostly promotes diversity by giving space for Black students on campus to exist in peace… Our existence is radical and we deserve a moment to enjoy that.”

Sophomore Diyaa Kaufman adds that the International Club, of which she is vice president, provides a similarly safe space for students of different cultural backgrounds to learn from each other and build a sense of community.

“Without learning about those who are different from us, and celebrating those differences, there is no way to expand our own worldviews and question our understanding of the world,” Kaufman says.

The Guilfordian celebrates the diversity of the Guilford community, and we encourage students to do the same. Attend club meetings, browse the calendar events at the IEC and celebrate Latinx Appreciation Month this month! Surround yourself with people of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences, and engage in open and honest conversations with friends. If we take the time to learn about and appreciate our differences, we can help to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all.

Find the IEC’s fall calendar of events here:
To be added to the Diversity Club’s email list, contact [email protected].
Check The Guilford Buzz for announcements.
Follow @guilfordiec and @bsu_guilford on Instagram for more information.