CDSJ Celebrates 10 Years at Southwestern University
On August 30, the Southwestern University Coalition for Diversity and Social Justice celebrated its 10 year anniversary. Since 2009, CDSJ has served as an umbrella organization to the student-led groups at Southwestern University whose missions center on issues of cultural and social identity.
While each organization has its own independent leadership, these groups collaborate to work together towards CDSJ’s mission: fostering an inclusive and supportive community of student organizations that promotes and celebrates diversity.
On their page on the Southwestern University website, CDSJ identifys themselves as “a united voice dedicated to empowering the SU community to challenge the oppression of any individual or group.” CDSJ aims to function as “an effective organized forum for students to discuss the issues surrounding justice and to act upon these issues in order to institute real change within our campus community.”
The Coalition is currently composed of the following eight student-led groups that deal with culture, identity, and social justice on campus: Asian Student Association, Ebony, Kappa Delta Chi (KDChi), Hispanics and Latinos Organization (HALO), Pirates for Pride, Reproductive Justice Alliance (RJA), Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge (SEAK), and SU Native.
I reached out via email to Terri Johnson, Assistant Dean for Student Multicultural affairs, to get her take on the anniversary and what CDSJ means to Southwestern.
“The Coalition for Diversity and Social Justice represents ten courageous years of extremely hard work by students and alums,” said Johnson, who has worked closely with the Coalition since 201l.
“The CDSJ has made it look so easy because so much of their work has been done behind the scenes and with little or no recognition,” Johnson continued. “People often forget about the numerous programs, events, fundraisers, workshops, trainings, presentations, meetings, committees, marches, forums, negotiations and written proposals that have helped make changes happen.The CDSJ has served as an active ally and an umbrella organization for so many students and organizations and a valuable resource for the entire campus community.”
“The creation of the CDSJ has led to more safe and brave spaces on campus like the Cross-Cultural Center,” Johnson continued, referencing the space in Prothro where CDSJ is based.
The Coalition has had an influence beyond the initiatives of which they are directly a part.
“This successful model has made more departments create spaces and places that make students feel welcome and comfortable,” Johnson told me, “studying, meeting, hosting events, have difficult dialogues, share stories, learn more about their identity and sense of belonging or just to take a break to relax and unwind.”
CDSJ is not the only resource on-campus which advocates for inclusion and diversity, and they regularly work in collaboration with the administration. “Working in collaboration with the Diversity Enrichment Committee and the Office of Diversity Education” Johnson said, “has given the organization a supportive and caring team to work in partnership with at Southwestern.”
Each semester, students from each of these organizations come together and dedicate themselves to celebrating diversity and advocating for equality. Keep an eye out for exciting events from each of these organizations throughout the coming school year, and help CDSJ continue working towards a more inclusive Southwestern.
If you have specific questions or are part of an organization that wants to join CDSJ or learn about the application process, you can contact CDSJ President Diana Trumees 21’ at email@example.com, or Terri Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.