Maggie Calvert believes that she is in the best position to help promote diversity and civil discourse at SRU. Just weeks ago, she was unsure if she should even pursue the position of Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, questioning whether or not she could put her own privileges aside in order to best serve the students.
“It took some time before I realized that you didn’t have to look diverse in order to be a voice for diversity and inclusion on campus,” Calvert said. “I talked with former social justice chair Victoria Davis and she really helped me through my reservations. It became clear to me that I couldn’t give into that stereotype and that I should pursue the position.”
Just prior to the beginning of the 2019 election cycle for the SRSGA, presumptive nominee Donovan Ford ended his campaign to be VP of Diversity and Inclusion. Calvert launched her write-in campaign at the start of the voting cycle on April 3. When voting closed a week later, she had secured a stark majority of votes, easily securing the position.
Calvert, a triple major in political science, philosophy and gender studies, was sworn in alongside the rest of the new executive board at Monday night’s formal meeting. She said that she is excited to work with the new senate and help promote an inclusive culture within student government.
“One of the main ideas that I ran on was more training for senators in SGA,” Calvert said. “We have to show our constituents that SGA as a whole is committed to social justice.”
Calvert said that she was able to do some activities pertaining to implicit bias during SGA’s last informal session, and hopes to continue similar practices starting in the fall. Beyond in-house workshops, she believes working with campus organizations to conduct diversity training is the next logical step toward making SRU a more accepting environment.
In February, a Black History Month flyer was vandalized in Rhoads Hall with racist language. A town hall discussion was put on by the university with the hopes of starting a positive dialogue about race relations at SRU. Calvert wants to host similar events next year, covering a wide range of topics that might otherwise go undiscussed.
“I can’t imagine what it was like to be a black student on campus during that time,” Calvert said. “I think that the university did their best to address the issue head-on and get students engaging with one another. We could be doing a lot more collaboratively, like reaching out to more people who need to be educated on these issues. I think in most cases, these individuals aren’t spreading hate on purpose. Many students need education to combat misguided ignorance.”
In addition to hosting more town hall events and senator training sessions, Calvert will be instituting a pilot program to provide free access to menstrual products. She hopes to have the program up and running by November and considers the initiative one of her main priorities in the immediate future.
“We have a significant amount of students on campus who are food insecure, meaning that they also likely can’t afford menstrual products, which can be very expensive,” Calvert said. “This issue is really important to me. Hopefully, once everything is in place by November, it can move beyond our campus and into the surrounding community to help others who are in need.”
In preparing to take on a leadership role, Calvert said that former chair Davis and former VP Kennedy Moore provided a great foundation for her to build from in 2019-20. She said that they both had different approaches to meeting the goals of the committee and that she will take their lessons in stride as she navigates her new executive board status in student government.”
Kennedy and Victoria laid all the groundwork for social justice to be a successful committee in the future,” Calvert said. “I’m very excited to take on what they started.”