Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion to Open New Center for Inclusivity

Sun Yat Sen will be home to the new center, which will open in the fall


Torch Photo/Rachel Johnson

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall will house the Diversity Task Force’s new Inclusivity Resource Center.

Jillian Ortiz, Assistant Chief Copy Editor

As the 2017-2018 school year draws to a close, the St. John’s University Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion has seen the actualization of some of its initiatives.

On the heels of the 2018-2019 academic year, the Task Force has a new measure underway.

The Task Force’s new Inclusivity Resource Center is expected to launch during the fall 2018 semester, aiding in an effort to foster a more inclusive campus environment. This follows the Task Force’s recent distribution of a Campus Climate Survey, which was intended to “measure how … students experience St. John’s from an inclusivity perspective,” according to the University website.

The Center will be located in Sun Yat Sen Hall and will serve as a space for students to create, engage and foster “authentic and informed” dialogues. Additionally, the Center will hold monthly workshops that will focus on inclusivity and equity.

The purpose of the center is “to provide a safe space for [our] students of color and other marginalized identities, but also to address the fact that there is another concern that there is a lot of segregation on campus and there’s not a lot of talking amongst [student] populations,” Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer Nada Llewellyn said during a Task Force meeting on March 5.

As a resource to students, student groups will also have the opportunity to use a space within the center. This includes groups, “that address the needs of historically marginalized groups and have missions that are consistent with that of the University,” as stated on the University website.

The Center will also include two gender neutral bathrooms, according to Llewellyn.

“It acts as an opportunity here for there to be the dialogue for diversity that [doesn’t] happen across campus and we’re hoping we can start to foster it through formal programming and, hopefully, eventually informal [means],” Llewellyn said.

Student Government, Inc. (SGI) is one of the organizations on campus accredited with aiding the Task Force in its planning and execution.

In light of the recent Diversity and Inclusion Org Congress survey responses, newly-elected SGI President Atem Tazi said she looks forward to addressing some students concerns, particularly Asian students.

“Some of the Asian students on campus feel like they have been neglected on campus,” Tazi said. “In my candidacy for Student Government, I plan on reaching out to those communities on campus and seeing how exactly we can support them.”

She added that it is important to her to address this, as she doesn’t want any student to feel like their “voices aren’t heard.”

“Rosa Yen, the director of Multicultural Affairs … has reached out to me in the past about setting up some kind of forum where I could speak directly to students of that community so that’s something that I will be doing between the end of this semester and the beginning of the next semester,” Tazi continued.

The Inclusivity Research Center at St. John’s University is similar to other initiatives seen at institutions across the United States, such as SUNY Cortland, University of Wisconsin River Falls and the University of Minnesota. These schools also feature centers that aim to improve their respective campus communities.

“I think it’s a really great thing to have on campus because this school is so diverse that there needs to be someone who… makes sure that everything is actually diverse and people are being included,” freshman Rachel Armstrong said.

She added, “I think students will definitely take advantage of it… a lot of students who are from minority groups don’t feel like they’re represented here, so I think this will definitely help with that.”


Angelica Acevedo contributed to this story.