Clare Forrister, Staff Writer
October 3, 2014
Filed under Features
Every year, one small, diverse group of fewer than 20 students works tirelessly to break down the unceasing, outdated prejudices that still affect Guiltord to this day.
Whether people realize it or not, this group has helped make changes in College policies that affect everyone’s experiences on campus.
“I think the goal of MLSP is to push the community to actively embrace diversity and recognize the importance of the experiences of all people,” said junior and second-year MLSP Scholar Zana Hicks in an email interview.
This year’s 16 MLSP scholars learn about the value of diversity through weekly workshops and discussions.
Scholars then bring what they learn to the wider community through year-long projects with positive impacts. The projects focus on changing policy at Guilford to be more inclusive.
“The real issue is making sure the College as a whole lives up to its diversity core value, and through MLSP we’ve seen that work be actualized because we as students actually have to implement it,” said senior and second-year MLSP Scholar Khadija Carr.
Students in the program form small groups to pursue their diversity-focused projects for the year.
“Groups need to focus on a specific policy or practice that will lead to the creation of a more affirming culture for all groups,” reads the MLSP page on Guilford’s website.
Last year, one group worked to change the approach to sexual assault and health education during new student orientation by improving the way orientation leaders facilitate conversations about sexual assault and health.
“My group members and I did research of how sexual assault and health was taught and surveyed first-years,” said junior and second-year MLSP Scholar Yashua Clemons in an email interview.
The group restructured the program to create a more effective approach to the topic, and their changes were implemented for Orientation at the beginning of this year.
Other projects have aimed to improve campus policies on financial literacy, the design of RA training regarding the judicial policies at Guilford and the underrepresentation of people of color on the Guilford faculty.
This year, students have already participated in activities to broaden their perspectives, such as visiting the Sankofa African-American Museum on Wheels.
“At the museum, I gained so much knowledge of what actually happened by seeing the pictures and the documentation,” said sophomore and first-year MLSP Scholar Rosie Mijangos-Lucero. “I saw the property tax receipts where they would charge for slaves like they were property. You just gain so much from it.”
Students also gain new perspectives at their weekly meetings.
“The Wednesday meetings are unique,” said senior and first-year MLSP scholar Josh Williams. “The discussions vary so much because of the difference in perspectives in the room.”
An abundance of different viewpoints flourish thanks to the diversity of the group itself.
“We’re a very wide cross-section of Guilford’s campus,” said senior and second-year MLSP Scholar Chelsea Yarborough.
The MLSP program provides each student with a scholarship, which may be compelling enough for some students to apply. However, MLSP requires a commitment greater than just time.
“You must have a willingness to learn and not judge right away,” said Mijangos-Lucero. “Do it because you want to learn about it, not just to get the scholarship. Have that commitment to it.”
The scholars appreciate the opportunity to be in the program and the chance to make a difference in the community.
“MLSP is important to the Guilford community because it centers the work that marginalized students are doing on campus,” said Yarborough. “I like knowing that there is a dedicated space on campus where my ideas are heard, and I’m encouraged to go out and make things happen.”
First-year and MLSP Scholar Jeffrey Ray praised the program for creating bonds across the community regarding topics, such as race, that can be divisive.
Ray expressed his confidence in the power of MLSP to make a difference. “I believe one small group can move a mountain,” said Ray.