By: Madison Ruffo
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – As Black History Month comes to a close, Niagara University remains on a path toward intersectionality. That is the main goal of Elizabeth Camara, NUSGA’s Diversity and Inclusion chair. The position, created under the leadership of student-body President Cheyenne Freely, is based on a similar position created following the 2015 demonstration on NU’s campus regarding racial equality.
“The [position’s] whole purpose is to ensure that the NUSGA is always able to hear the voices of underrepresented groups of students on campus and those fighting for social justice, so that we can act in their best interests as well,” said Freely.
“I felt that someone who wanted to join all five social justice clubs [on campus] shouldn’t have to choose which club they identify with more,” said Camara. Since receiving the position last semester, she has seen her words transform into action as both multicultural and social justice groups have increased engagement and support among themselves.
Camara, a junior history major with minors in Africana studies – an additional consequence of the 2015 demonstration – and sociology, hopes to implement more discussions and events that specifically focus on diversity and intersectionality during her time in the position.
“A lot of people do not discuss the issues they have with NU because they feel that they are not going to be heard,” said Camara. “I want[ed] to change that narrative.” While the Office of Multicultural Affairs and associated organizations hold a number of events throughout the year to promote diversity, attendance numbers are often low. By implementing a Diversity and Inclusion Chair as a liaison between OMA and NUSGA, the first step has already been taken toward spreading that dialogue further than the OMA office.
In addition to student inclusion, Camara would like to see more faculty of color, specifically those hired on merit. Faculty members have a great influence on the way in which their students perceive the world; therefore, a diverse and inclusive staff inspires students to follow suit.
When asked what her passion was, Camara gave two answers: community and education. She volunteers in her local community through non-profit organizations as well as her local church.
“Being a first generation Liberian American, I come from a household where getting an education is required and expected,” said Camara. The combination of her two passions, along with her love for NU, creates the perfect storm for Camara to succeed in the continued representation of her peers as the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion chair.