Students honored for promoting campus diversity
Radford University students, faculty and staff were recognized on April 15 for their efforts toward building and fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.
The third annual R.E.D. (Recognizing Excellence in Diversity) Awards were presented in the Muse Banquet Hall by RU's Center for Diversity and Inclusion Director Crasha Townsend and Assistant Director Natalie Fajardo.
Before the awards presentation, members of Radford's student body took the stage in a colorful display of culture. Nehemiah Bester-Lewis performed a powerful poem titled "Ode to Women." Lorenzo Reyes followed with a performance of "Tu me Acostumbraste," a song he described as "close to my heart."
Dean of Students Irvin Clark addressed the audience and spoke about the relevance of this year's R.E.D. Awards theme, "Leading the Change."
"It is consistent with the rapidly changing demographics at Radford University, particularly in the increased number people of color, first-generation college students and the people who identify with the LGBTQ community," Clark said.
Clark shed light on national statistics that reveal change is coming to college campuses across the nation.
"In 1976, white students made up 84 percent of the college student body. Now they represent a little less than 60 percent," Clark said.
Clark also addressed the recent diversity-related confrontations, such as in Ferguson, Missouri, which have made national headlines.
"Many Americans are simply fatigued with the issues and questions that surround diversity. However, we cannot afford to linger or become complacent in our efforts to become 'Leading the Change' ambassadors at Radford," Clark said. "I encourage you to stand together against homophobic, sexist and racist agendas. I am optimistic we can stand hopeful about the future of RU."
Keynote speaker Joanna Hunter, associate professor in RU's sociology department, offered inspiration and advice on becoming a leader. She also discussed various stereotypes and biases.
"You can be the change with a small act, and the act of recognizing your own bias," Hunter said. "All of you have them. It's part of the water in which we swim."
The winners of the 2015 R.E.D. Awards are:
- Diavanti Bedford: Behind The Scenes Leader
- Kevon Dupree: Emerging Leader (Freshmen and Sophomores Only)
- Skye Heasley: Established Leader (Juniors and Seniors Only)
- Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.: Excellence in Social Justice Organization
- Dr. Carla Corroto and Dr. Irvin Clark: Outstanding Faculty and Staff
- Diversity Awareness Programming Board-Black History Month Dinner: Outstanding New Program
- Diversity Awareness Programming Board: Outstanding Student Organization
- Lewis Townsend-Wells Fargo and Latino's Taste Restaurant: Diversity in the Community Award