On Saturday approximately 35 students and community members met inside the Modern Languages Building for Central Student Government’s first Diversity Summit. Students, faculty and staff ran sessions at the summit. The theme was Bridging Gaps.
Lloyd Lyons, CSG executive diversity officer and public health senior, said the theme was about creating space for members of different campus communities to have discussions about identity and leadership across campus. Lyons also noted this event was an opportunity for CSG to reaffirm its support for student organizations and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals on campus.
“We know in the past there’s been different representations of CSG,” Lyons said. “This year was a big year to kind of be like, ‘This is something that’s important, we value DEI and just want that message to be put across.’”
Lyons is the first executive diversity officer for CSG. He emphasized bringing groups who do not normally communicate together in the same room was one of his major goals in the position.
The summit was part of CSG’s Narrative, Equity and Transformation plan, an initiative created to enhance diversity and inclusion among student organizations on campus. Lyons said NET’s goal is to challenge how students run their organizations in terms of inclusivity and community climate.
Sehrish Hussain, deputy executive diversity officer and Business and Art & Design freshman, commended the event, noting how these types of conversations aren't happening at certain companies.
“It’s amazing to see that we’re doing this at a student level in organizations when companies don’t even have things like this happening,” Hussain said. “I think it’s truly amazing and we’re shaping leaders here.”
Hussain hopes summit participants leave with contacts at different organizations for future use. She wants them to know CSG cares about student inclusion and student organizations are more alike than different.
Additionally, Hussain noted this summit as an example of former CSG President Daniel Greene’s commitment to diversity. Greene, a Public Policy senior, left office in late March and was succeeded by LSA sophomore Ben Gerstein.
Greene’s party, MVision, had a strong focus on diversity, though it was criticized for what some called the tokenization of minority candidates and high-level members. MVision party members, including winning LSA representative Sabeen Khan, defended the party, saying they never felt used for their identities and that the criticism from people outside the party delegitimized their work.
Greene, as well as other CSG members, attended the summit. Hussain said Greene had been helpful in creating and executing the event as well as promoting diversity in CSG and on campus.
“Daniel Greene’s initiatives — the DEI initiatives — were something that he ran his platform on and he definitely held true to that by not only putting in the EDO position … through the NET plan supporting us, but also supporting this event,” Hussain said. “He’s just been a great ally and support for this.”
Public Health junior Mohsin Arsiwala is a member of Heal-Move-Shift, a student organization focused on shifting the stigma away from cardiovascular, nutritional and mental health issues in Detroit and Ann Arbor. Arsiwala gave a presentation at the summit presentation about health, identity and burnout on campus.
Arsiwala hoped participations walked away from his session with some ideas about how to change their personal lives to be healthier as well as new insight into how identity affects day-to-day life.
“I don’t really hope that they gained so much textbook definitions of things, but more it was about the reflections amongst them,” Arsiwala said. “My whole goal was the make sure people were talking and at least discussing and being open to have that conversation and people were listening and reflecting upon that. So I really hope they use that to impact their own lives and make changes, and think about the world a little differently.”