Get back the Assistant Director Position for the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center

This petition made change with 603 supporters!

I am writing to you on this beautiful day, filled with sunshine, to talk about a rather dark and overarching issue – the lack of representation of minority students at Siena College. Being approximately 20% of the student body’s population, we are growing in numbers; subsequently, it would make sense that the administration and staff reflect this increase in diversity as well. However, this is not the case. Administrators, Full Time and Part Time Faculty, and Staff have lower percentages of racial diversity in Siena College when compared to the student body. a major position within the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center has recently been cut, as part of budget-related accommodations. This leaves the responsibilities of the advisor to our school’s numerous Affinity Clubs in the hands of a single person – a clear demonstration of underrepresentation.

Diversity and overall inclusion are part of the DORS Initiative of Siena College. The removal of this position within a department, which had already been limited in terms of resources, does not reflect that initiative’s goals nor does it send a positive message to the minority students on campus; ethnic, religious, and gender minorities, among many other students, are disheartened and outraged that this sort of  injustice is manifesting itself within Damietta, a safe haven to many students struggling to assimilate into a new, different atmosphere. All of our students are aware that Diversity is a core Franciscan value, thanks to our First-Year Seminar curriculum; nevertheless, the vast majority are unaware of the existence of the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center and what it offers. We do not keep the door locked, or even closed for that matter, yet the level of importance placed on this limited department’s expansion and resources is little to nonexistent.

Not only does this issue affect our student’s sentiments, but it takes a significant toll on our administration and faculty members as well. As aforementioned, there is now ONE position within Damietta to represent all of our Affinity Clubs and their interests. Running effective, diversity-promoting programs, job training, mentoring, and more was difficult with only two directors; asking one person to be accountable for all these duties is simply overbearing. The administration loses when one considers the prominence of Damietta and Diversity on college tours and advertisements for prospective students. Promoting an inclusive, diverse environment is pivotal to the recruitment of many students, a substantial incentive to expand our Cross-Cultural Center. Lastly, we are drawn to friars and the concept of community as soon as we touch down on campus as freshmen. The absence of a friar in this advising position removes the key, interfaith aspect of Damietta, which contributes to the limited expansion issue and detracts the potential for connections to other members and organizations in the Siena community.

Diversity matters and the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center is instrumental in providing that core Franciscan value to our students. There is a bitter taste within the mouths of many minority students, who have recurringly had their mouths shut by systemic suppression. You can ameliorate the damage done that influences this sort of sentiment; we can help. Damietta holds a special place in our hearts; the Asian Student Association, Black Student Union, Muslim Students Association, Latinos Unificando Nuestra América, PRIDE Gay-Straight Alliance, and Jewish student association club stand strong in solidarity. This is a fundamental issue of a caliber with which we are too familiar as minority students. Siena College as a whole will benefit from increased minority representation and the addition of the previously-cut Damietta Advisor position. Please let us know what, if anything, can be done on our part to assist in this effort. Thank you for your time and understanding.

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