The Origins of Diversity Day 3

Published: November 15, 2012

Erik Elbieh

Simon’s Rock hosted its 7th Annual Diversity Day on Wednesday, Nov. 14. While this year’s Diversity Day may change the workings of future events, it might be worthwhile to remember the founding of the event and its evolution in years past.

Diversity Day first occurred on Wednesday, Mar. 15, 2006, and it was originally organized by students, staff, and faculty, as well as by some backing from the Race Task Force. Some students had created surveys to assess opinions of Cultural Perspectives (CP) classes, and it was decided that more incorporation or focus of diversity should be included on campus.

During the first year of the event, lectures or discussions were held by students, and faculty were asked to either cancel class or excuse students who chose to instead attend the workshops. There were a total of 31 workshops offered, and the program featured the title “Bursting the Bubble at Simon’s Rock: A One-Day Teach-In On Diversity.”

The next year, the event was pushed to April, but in 2008 the date was changed to November. Part of the reasoning for moving the day earlier was to allow students the opportunity to continue conversations related to Diversity Day through a greater portion of the year as opposed to only the last couple months of the year.

After the first year, the event expanded slightly to include diversity-related events throughout the week, including more talks by outside visitors and a community meeting. In 2008, a total of 38 workshops were held.

During the first year, student attendance was not mandatory for the workshops, but a number of students sought to change this so that all students would take part in the diversity discussions. After talking with the administration, a number of students arranged for classes to be cancelled in order to devote an entire day to the student-driven discussions. The faculty senate and other administrative departments approved the change through a unanimous vote.

The official name, Diversity Day, was coined more recently, but the annual event and concept is still very similar to the original conception in 2006. The lasting effect retained now is the one day of the year where special student-run panels are given instead of normal class, as well other events throughout the week including a keynote speaker the night before the main event. Of course, the faculty advisors who facilitate and run the workshops deserve a substantial amount of credit for each Diversity Day, but the organization of the original event is due to the students who started the event in the years past.

This article could not have been put together without the help of Margaret Cherin, the College Archivist, as well as several faculty members with excellent recollections of memories.


  1. My goodness! Back in 1972 we got rid of mandatory Chapel attendance at University. People were willing to accept that America was a different place than the 1950s and that the college could no longer ram its Religion down the students’ throats. But now you have come full circle. Rather than ram religion down student throats, you ram your liberalism down their throats with a day (!) full of mandatory workshops and confessing of sins. What happened to you children that you have turned into such little Puritans? Is it completely impossible for you to just live and let live? Can you not let others think and believe what they will? Or must everyone fall on their knees, weeping and begging (racial) forgiveness? What a sad, small-minded, morally (and doubtless sexually) repressed bunch of neo-Puritans you are! It is a big world out there. You are going to meet millions of people who refuse to go to even a one day reeducation camp for disagreeing with you. What will you sad, small-minded, repressed and repressing people do turn? Will you throw a temper tantrum? Will you scream “Off with their heads!” like Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen?

  2. Pingback: Privilege, Difference and the Challenge of Creating a “Beloved Community” « Transition Times

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