“I Too Am Canisius” tackles diversity on campus

By Elizabeth Sawka
Griffin Reporter

The Undergraduate Student Association’s Diversity Board held the first ever “I Too Am Canisius” campaign this past week to celebrate diversity at Canisius.  Students, faculty, and staff were able to  purchase a t-shirt for one dollar to be worn on Friday, November 20.  The shirts have quotes about embracing differences on the back, including a quote from the Ninth Doctor on the BBC television series Doctor Who: “There is no such thing as an ordinary human.”  Diversity Chair Paula Uruburok said the campaign is meant to tell the Canisius community that “we understand your differences, we accept them and we love you. You matter to us.  We want to represent you, regardless of your gender, skin color, religion or socio-economic status.  You belong with the Canisius family.” All 150 shirts ordered by Diversity Board sold out, a clear reflection of the support for diversity on campus.

Proceeds will be donated to The International Institute of Buffalo (IIB).  IIB offers language classes, immigrant victim services, and translator services for refugees and immigrants in Buffalo.  According to their website, the goal of IIB is “to strengthen Western New York by assisting refugees and immigrants to become independent, informed and contributing members of the community” by promoting “cultural competence, multiculturalism, and global connectedness throughout the region.”  The Diversity Board chose to donate to IIB because of their extensive support to refugees in Buffalo and to show that Canisius supports the refugee community in Buffalo.

There were signs at the t-shirt sales prompting students, faculty, and staff to write down what made them unique.  Students wrote signs like “I’ve never met someone who wasn’t important” and “I am diverse because I believe in equality.” The intention of the signs were to celebrate the differences in members of our Canisius community because these differences do not determine the value of students.  The mission of “I Too Am Canisius” is to make students feel celebrated and valued because of their differences, not in spite of them.

Selling out of all the shirts for “I Too Am Canisius” indicates a strong campus support for diversity.  A Diversity and Inclusion Center could be a concrete representation of this student and staff support.  Uruburok said a center celebrating not only racial/ethnic diversity but a center for gender nonconforming, LGBTQ+, and first generation students would “let students, faculty, administration and staff know that everyone matters and that we identify and understand their different needs.”

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