Multicultural Leadership Council
Jacob Pierce, ’19
Student VUceptor, College of Arts and Science
I don’t do many class readings, but one in particular has always stuck with me: “diversity loses its force, however, if in the same space, different persons or activities are merely concentrated, buch each remains isolated…Differences have to interact.” I never expected my view of diversity to change because of a Writing Seminar that sought to explore how cities can be a solution to many of the environmental problems that plague the world today.
Prior to this reading, I fell victim to the belief that the presence of diversity was enough; I had never stopped to consider that diversity is only valuable when differences come in contact with one another. It’s not enough for a space to be filled with people of diverse beliefs, backgrounds, racial identities, or sexual identities. Those differences must interact with one another. This is the only way to stimulate personal learning and growth. It’s the only way diverse perspectives can be understood and engender empathy. It’s the only way we can begin to move towards the fairer and more just society that people claim to desire.
It’s with this in mind that I decided to apply for the Multicultural Leadership Council (MLC) at the end of my first-year at Vanderbilt. The MLC is the largest umbrella organization on Vanderbilt’s campus, and it is composed of over thirty multicultural organizations. I wanted to be part of this council because I saw it as a great opportunity to practice what I had been preached — making differences interact. I believed that the position I applied for, Special Activities Co-chair, would give me a chance to do just that.
As a member of the SPAC Crew (as we call ourselves), I work to put on various programs for the members of the MLC community and the larger Vanderbilt one as well. One of the first activities my co-chairs and I planned was the MLC Olympics. The MLC Olympics is an event that seeks to promote collaboration and cooperation amongst MLC members through olympic-style games, like dodge ball, volleyball, and flag football. The MLC Olympics is such a beautiful event because it brings people of different backgrounds and ethnicities closer to one another, fostering personal relationships that can then be used as a springboard for deeper, more personal conversations in the future, but conversations are not enough. These conversations are only valuable if they can be leveraged into actionable steps that can be used to make Vanderbilt a more inclusive and welcoming community.
For the 2017-2018 school year, I will serve as the President of the MLC, a position that fills me with humility, gratefulness, and excitement. As President, I plan to keep working to make differences interact with one another. The goal of any university is not just to provide students with an academic education, but an intellectual one as well. The latter can only happen when diversities are, as that reading once said, allowed to “interact.” Otherwise, it means nothing. I am so thankful that I found the MLC and was given an opportunity to facilitate interactions amongst the incredible diversity that Vanderbilt has to offer. It’s the only way to expose myself and others to new perspectives and experiences, providing me with learning opportunities that aren’t restricted to the classroom. Now more than ever, it is incumbent on us that we remain committed to fighting for a world that is more inclusive, more just, and more fair. That fight can only begin once differences interact.