Darby Salge '19 is a school psychology doctoral student in the College of Education and Human Development and Student Diversity Advisory Council (SDAC) chief student leader. Redeem Francis '22 is a second-year student at The Bush School of Government and Public Service and SDAC treasurer.
The Student Diversity Advisory Council (SDAC) is a Texas A&M University standing university-wide organization that serves as a student advisory body to the Office for Diversity. The SDAC gathers students from colleges across the university to assist with the implementation of diversity, campus climate, equity, and accountability policies and practices.
We interviewed Salge and Francis about their inspiration and involvement in The Student Diversity Advisory Council and the importance of advocacy.
What inspired your participation in diversity, equity, and inclusion work?
The members of the Office for Diversity Learning Community (ODLC) realized that there is a lack of student representation and engagement in connection to the administration, especially when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Salge and Francis shared they helped start this organization to empower other students by connecting them with members of the University administration. "We also noticed that our peers and colleagues often do not know about the diversity initiatives going on all around campus," Salge said. "We hope that the SDAC can help fill this gap by increasing student awareness of diversity efforts at Texas A&M."
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in starting an organization?
Salge and Francis shared that they realized how time-consuming registering a new student organization can be! Throughout this process, they were intentional about setting guidelines to ensure the sustainability of the organization. Their plan was to help create an organization that lasts long beyond their graduation. They began with the foundation, which in their case, was the constitution. "We looked at countless examples, consulted with other successful student organizations, and asked for advice from our mentors all before starting the first draft of our constitution," Salge said. "We are proud of the final product, but logistics such as this are definitely not something you think to chat about with your colleagues while dreaming up a new organization."
Do you have any suggestions to help others become better advocates?
Francis shared that being an advocate is all about taking action. Taking the time to do your own research, to understand social issues, and how you can best support a cause is imperative to your personal and professional development. "You have to understand your own biases and how they might influence your perspectives," she said. "The more you learn, the more prepared you will be to advocate for what’s important to you.
Secondly, you cannot sustain advocacy long-term without engaging in routine self-care. Take the time to go to therapy, to read a book, to rest!"
What would you like to highlight about your field of work?
Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is not easy. "You will always have those who support you, and those who don’t," Salge said. 'However, you can’t let the challenges stop you from carrying out this important work, or lasting change will never happen."
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