On April 18, the Equity and Anti-Racism committee at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Arts and Sciences held a panel discussion in the Galanti Lounge of the Robert L. Carothers Library to discuss issues revolving around diversity on the campus.

The committee, which is led by professors Joyce Wu and Karen Sweeting, hopes to provide a platform for students of color and faculty to discuss anti-racist policies that the school could implement to make the campus more inclusive.

“We normally teach in the classroom, but afterwards, what impacts student life on campus, we don’t really know 100 percent what is going on,” Wu said.

According to Sweeting, the goal of the advisory committee is to present the dean of arts and science with ideas to make change in the URI community. The discussions gave the committee more of an insight into what is important to both students and faculty in the URI community.

Guests spoke to students and faculty on the panel about racism they have observed on campus, as well as things such as microaggressions, which some students at the event said they experienced themselves. Participants were also split into groups where they discussed their own experiences and beliefs when it came to the University’s work on diversity.

Sweeting sent out a feedback survey after the panel in which participants discussed what they liked and what could be improved in the future panels. Some things included subjects that could be touched upon on later dates, such as microaggressions and people with disabilities.

According to Wu, the committee is a fairly new one. The College of Arts and Sciences had a previous diversity committee that had a broader range of topics. This committee was established as the school decided equity and anti-racism were two of the most important topics to discuss with the community.

Sweeting said that many times, these topics get diluted when discussed. She said that the committee gives an opportunity to students and staff to have deeper conversations about the topics.

“We want to be targeted and we want to do things that are meaningful,” Sweeting said. “It’s not about us showing up and checking a box and saying ‘we’ve done this,’ it’s really deeper than that.”

Sweeting said that in examining what is happening, they hope to use their limited power they were given to help spread change around the community.

Since they are a new committee, they have to gain more trust in the community and that there is still a lot of work to be done, Sweeting said.

The committee also has two student chairs, junior Imani Fleming and senior Antonia Alvarado. Wu says having student chairs is a constructive way to get more accurate feedback from other perspectives on campus.

“We don’t necessarily know that students feel like some outcomes might be there for the sake of being there and the topic of diversity is not handled intensely, so that is actually productive to hear,” Wu said.

Both Sweeting and Wu said that these are important in seeing how to approach anti-racist thought in the future and hope to have monthly discussions next year.