Diversity interest senators look to educate, engage campus

Story by Sam Rud

Photo Courtesy Joey Gale

senate-w2000-h2000Diversity interest senators work to serve Drake University’s minority students.

Senior Shauna Campbell and sophomore Abdul Mateen Hashim have been working this year as diversity interest senators to make Drake a more welcoming and tolerant place for its minority students.

Campbell, from Jamaica, and Hashim, from Malaysia, represent a voice of diversity at the student senate meetings held Thursdays at 9 p.m.

In addition to being a part of the student senate, Campbell and Hashim collaborate with all multicultural organizations on campus at the bi-weekly Unity Roundtable discussions.

Here, the different groups can share any suggestions, thoughts or upcoming events.

Campbell and Hashim each have unique goals as senators.

“For me specifically, I’ve been working on retention rates of minority students,” Campbell said.

She said that she and Dean of Students Sentwali Bakari have been trying to figure out how they can improve them.

Hashim, who is Muslim, said he hopes to educate other students about religion so there is less ignorance and more understanding.

He said he is bothered by how the news portrays specific religions.

He said he knows it will be hard, but he wants to “put some effort towards that goal” of religious tolerance.

Hashim said that Senate did an “inter-faith visit” last semester and went to various places of worship “to understand more” about different religions.

An objective important to both senators is improving the Drake Welcome Weekend experience for minority students.

“I know it’s boring and we’re trying to work on it so it’s more cultural, fun … so they want to go,” Campbell said.

Hashim, who could not speak English upon arrival to Drake, said his “first week in America was so awkward,” and that he “couldn’t join the conversation” during the Welcome Weekend activities.

When it comes to serving the student body, Hashim said that if students engage with them and share their concerns, he and Campbell could really help to “voice out their (the students’) opinions” at senate or Unity Roundtable meetings.

The only issue, Hashim said, is that “not all students are going to share their problems.”

Campbell said that Salwa Janjua, the previous diversity interest senator-at-large, was the one who suggested she apply for the position.

While Janjua is now studying abroad, Campbell said it was she who succeeded in getting halal (foods allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines) labels in Hubbell dining hall.

These labels are one example of how Drake and the diversity interest senators are accommodating its diverse student body.

Campbell appreciates all that Drake has done throughout her education here.

“That’s why I’m so happy I’m in this position, because the improvement is happening literally every year,” Campbell said.

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