University groups respond to graffiti

John Durkin

The Office of Residence Life staff and the Diversity Peer Educators held a diversity event at Stanford Hall last Thursday night.

The event consisted of four skits as well as discussions headed by officials and members of these two groups.

The event was designed to bring attention to four graffiti incidents that involved the writing of derogatory terms on white boards in the resident hall.

This particular diversity event acted as a response to the most recent of the incidents by acting as a community builder.

Run by both Residence Life and DPE, the event was designed to combine awareness of diversity on campus and implementation of school policies in order to provide a learning opportunity for those in attendance.

The goal of the event was to highlight both phrases and symbols that people often use without realizing their origin or significance.

Melissa Long, president of the Diversity Peer Educators, says the event was meant to “bring awareness to things that people do but don’t think about.”

The second-floor lounge in Stanford Hall served as the location for the event. Groups of students were led through the room to view various skits that highlighted the harmful effects of particular symbols and words.

All lights in the lounge were turned off in order to provide a solemn environment for the presentations.

The individual topics for the community builder were based on actual incidents of discrimination that occurred on Villanova’s campus.

By emphasizing Villanova’s policy of intolerance of racism and the University’s reaction to similar events that have occurred in the past, the DPEs ensured that the topics were realistic and should be taken seriously.

A discussion facilitated by Dr. Terry Nance, assistant vice president of Multicultural Affairs, Villanova’s communication department and Stephanie Cooper, the area coordinator of South Campus, was also conducted in order to promote a group dialogue that would discuss the skits and their application to University students.

Long believes that this is the most important aspect of all community builders.

“We don’t want to force conclusions,” Long said. “Rather, we want students to reach solutions by talking them through.”

According to their official Web site, Diversity Peer Educators work to “In order to achieve a greater sense of equality, friendship and openness for each Villanovan, Diversity Peer Educators work to eradicate all forms of prejudices on campus and to instill acceptance through education.”

After a variety of racial graffiti incidents occured during the last school year, the D.P.E.s have become very prominent on campus by promoting positive messages in an attempt to stamp out all derogatory and racial issues.

They are best known for their Orientation skit that raises awareness of cultural issues on campus among freshmen, a week-long ISM workshop and focus groups intended to answer questions and discover what issues concerning diversity require the most attention at Villanova.

With a goal of promoting respect, D.P.Es hope that these skits and discussion groups will reveal the nature of community that Villanova is built upon.

The Office of Residence Life also works in close conjuncion with Diversity Peer Educators in order to promote a positive environment for students.