Few attend Student Association town hall on diversity

A Student Association town hall on diversity Tuesday night drew fewer than 20 students to discuss obstacles facing multicultural programs on campus.

The forum was held in Thurston Hall and a half-hour after the event’s scheduled start time of 7 p.m., only 13 people were present. Some students filtered in later, bringing the attendance to around 20.

“We, of course, would have loved to see more students come out,” said junior Julienne DeWalt, the SA’s director of diversity affairs. “(But) people are in classes. People are at the basketball game.”

Senior Andrea Criollo, the president of the Organization of Latino American Students, said she was disappointed with the low turnout at the forum.

“I was wishing that there would be more people,” Criollo said. “We need to try new tactics to get people engaged.”

Participants in the forum, mainly members of the SA and leaders of multicultural organizations, discussed diversity at the University and the challenges associated with getting students involved with organizations.

Sophomore Kathryn Boland said diversity has improved the overall performance of GW Balance, the school’s largest ballet organization.

“We all come from so many diverse studios and backgrounds,” Boland said. “It makes it really interesting what we present.”

DeWalt said the SA’s primary diversity-related accomplishment this year has been the Unity Ball, a semiformal SA-sponsored event held in October at the Capital Hilton.

Criollo said the Unity Ball was a good first step toward greater awareness of diversity, but that some people did not feel engaged by the event.

“I don’t think people were coming to the event with the mindset the SA wanted,” Criollo said, adding that many attendees at the ball ignored the speakers.

Forum participants also discussed the challenges associated with drawing students to events.

“Free food is a catcher,” DeWalt said. “But we also have to find other ways to get people to events.”

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