COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina international business fraternity Sigma Omega Upsilon held a Diversity and Inclusion Panel on Leading Change on Friday.
The combination of professors and students urged those in attendance to engage with people whom don't look like them and bridge cultural differences.
Fraternity President and USC senior Elaine Swibel said she wanted to host events like this after noticing a lack of diversity in her own organization.
“These events are super important and we even touched on this in the event itself, like why is diversity inclusion-- why should it be talked about? Because if it's not talked about nothing's going to happen and nothing's going to change. I think the University needs more events like that. It's up to us as student organizations to host these events,” Swibel said after the panel discussion.
Swibel, studying international business, said she started to have conversations with fellow fraternity leadership about improving diversity and inclusion and realized they weren’t sure how.
So, they set out to organize a panel discussion involving professors and leaders of student groups to hear their perspectives.
The panel discussion came a few days after controversy when a student posted a racist picture on social media. The student is no longer enrolled with the school.
Last year, surrounding the selection of General Robert Caslen as the new USC President, there was a public outcry for more diversity on the University's board of trustees.
Panelist and USC junior Micah-Rafael Hall, also studying international business, said they're all examples of why these conversations need to keep happening.
“Those happenings, those occurrences, prompted us to do something like this. But, there's no one single occurrence, it's an effort that we will continually keep pushing no matter what, because it's so important and it's so relevant, especially now in this modern age,” Hall said.
The panelists described their experiences at home and at the University, detailing the importance of recognizing and respecting the lives of others.
Hall specifically emphasized the importance of communication and patience to help others understand individual experiences.
The panel also urged other organizations to act to seek out and include viewpoints from diverse backgrounds and cultures in their respective groups.
Swibel said her fraternity plans on hosting other diversity and inclusion panels in the coming months.