As part of Concordia’s push to create a more diverse campus, three new staff members have been added to the Office of Diversity.
The new staff members are Dr. Edward Antonio, Concordia’s first Chief Diversity Officer; Amena Chaudhry, Diversity Coordinator for Student Support Service; and Farhiyo Abdulkarim, administrative assistant for the Office of Diversity. All three, while fulfilling different roles, have one common goal: to diversify Concordia.
In his new position, Antonio will work directly with President Craft to support and enhance Concordia’s diversity efforts. He would like to focus on what he calls the “human element” of the college. According to Antonio, diversifying the human element does not just mean diversifying the race of students or staff; it means bringing together race, ethnicity, and thought into one community.
“One of my goals is to make sure that we represent the diversity that’s already in our community,” Antonio said. “There’s so much diversity in the Fargo-Moorhead which…could be represented here, but is not represented here right now.”
Antonio would like to encourage diversity on Concordia’s campus in terms of ethnic and racial profile, but also with qualities such as sexuality, ideology, and ability. According to Antonio, this requires a connection with the community so that communication and understanding can happen.
“I’m really interested in that ideological diversity—how do we create space and room for those people to feel safe to say who they are?” Antonio said. “I’m not interested in judging or condemning people for their political views, I’m interested in engaging and debating with them, and seeing whether they’ve got persuasive arguments. I would like this to be a place where being a human being drives what we think about.”
Chaudhry’s role involves coordinating diversity programming and providing direct support and advocacy to any student that has a concern or issue related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. She describes her position as flexible based off of what students need.
“I’m here as a support for students who need me; I’m here in an advising and mentoring capacity,” Chaudhry said.
Like Antonio, Chaudhry hopes to expand the ideological diversity of the campus by creating more open channels of communication, and is considering projects and trainings that will help provide students with the opportunity to share their experiences and perspectives, along with helping to build empathy.
“I would like to see or help … figure out a way to have more open honest conversations, while being able to talk about difficult subjects, and … to figure out how we can gather as a community when stuff happens, and even when stuff isn’t happening,” Chaudhry said.
According to Chaudhry, students and staff should focus on having conversations that don’t focus on being right or wrong. She believes that conversations that lead to understanding will lead to a more open community.
One of the biggest things Abdulkarim would like to see is representation at the college, and it is something that she is excited to contribute to.
“I think it’s a matter of colorfying our community and making sure that people are aware of differences that do exist but understand that there is a commonality that we all have,” Abdulkarim said.
Abdulkarim is hopeful and excited to see what changes the Office of Diversity can bring to the school.
“I’m excited about what the office has to offer, and the expertise that Edward is bringing into bringing diversity and representation into the campus,” Abdulkarim said.