MOORHEAD — The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Commision, DEIC, is back this year with a new lead Commissioner, Fanan Nizam, who is excited to build on the organization’s mission to create an inclusive and safe campus.
“I’ve always been interested in inclusivity and equity for all people and every space that I’ve been in. I was the head girl of my school back home in the Maldives and I led events like Pride Week, Asia Week and was a hostel rep in UWC Waterford (boarding high school),” Nizam said.
DEIC was founded in 2018 by the Diversity Support Coordinator, Amena Chaudhry.
“Amena along with SGA at that time put together the foundation to create a new commission within SGA that would be focused on student life DEI programs and events,” Director of Student Engagement, Nathalie Rinehardt said.
Concordia hired its first Chief Diversity officer that same year.
“It was all a joint effort to give structure and institutional support and student leadership roles around DEI topics,” Rinehardt said.
Since the creation of DEIC and every year following that, the commission has set new goals according to Rinehart.
According to Rinehardt, since 2018 and every year following that, the set of priorities of DEIC has changed:
“In the early years they were heavily focused on large scale DEI events—a poverty simulation, the tri-college PowWow, MLK Day, a Hip Hop summit, Indigenous Persons day. They were supporting Ramadan meals and recognition back in 2018. They’ve also supported student protests around DEI on campus. The We Wear Beanies too sit in, and the More Than a Poster sit in,” Rinehardt said.
However, after COVID-19, “the numbers of affinity student orgs on campus increased by 54 percent,” Rinehardt said.
This change of climate on campus positioned DEIC to take a more collaborative and responsive approach in maintaining their mission of facilitating inclusivity on campus.
“We want to alleviate the financial burden for a lot of affinity groups that want to collaborate with us,” Nizam said, “ They can stop by the office any time, whether it’s just to talk something out or if it’s to hold a protest.”
In addition to collaborating with other organizations on campus, Nizam hopes to lead DEIC initiated events as well.
“ September 21 is the International Day of Peace. We are brainstorming for that right now. Another event we might have is a winter clothing driveNizam said. .The winter clothing drive is dedicated to help people of low socioeconomic backgrounds and international students,”
In organizing these events, Nizam is not alone. Her team includes Siam Shimul, the Belonging Commissioner;. Lily Kjos, the Advocacy Commissioner; Alissa Edjacin, the Education Commissioner; Rodrigo Perez, the Finance Commissioner and Thanatip Thiansawang (Mat), the Marketing Commissioner.
“We have a lot of different personalities and a lot of different interests which I think add to the DEIC image,” Nizam said.
In response to DEIC’s efforts in creating an inclusive environment, some students have mixed reviews.
“Concordia is trying their best. They have improved a lot but they still have a long way to go,” said Magnar Gjersten, an exchange student from Norway.
Tackling these challenges will keep the DEIC office, its staff and the collection of snacks and coffee mugs occupied.