As racial unrest rocks Mizzou, USM Gulf Park celebrates diversit - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

As racial unrest rocks Mizzou, USM Gulf Park celebrates diversity

The community service project was tied to Diversity Week celebrations at the Gulf Park campus. (Photo source: WLOX News) The community service project was tied to Diversity Week celebrations at the Gulf Park campus. (Photo source: WLOX News)
LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

As racial unrest sparked protests and caused a shake-up in leadership at the University of Missouri, students at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park were celebrating diversity and tolerance. 

Several USM students spent Friday afternoon clearing the clutter in the storage room at the Hancock County Boys and Girls Club. The community service project was tied to Diversity Week celebrations at the Gulf Park campus.

"The Boys and Girls Club is all about developing potential in future leaders and we recognize the importance of helping young people to be versed and be aware of diversity from a young age," said USM Student Life & Career Services Coordinator Jona Burton.

Activities on the Long Beach campus have focused on embracing each other's differences, from race and sexual orientation to unique experiences among military veterans.

"It allows us to relate to one another, no matter what background you come from," said USM Senior Bethany Cuevas.

USM leaders say the turmoil on the Columbia campus sheds light on the need to talk about tolerance and inclusion.

"We need to listen to our students. The younger generation has new attitudes about what's acceptable and what the standards should be, and I was really pleased to see they rallied to stand up for that in Missouri," said USM Institutional Diversity Committee Vice Chair Dr. Douglas Bristol.

About 64 percent of Southern Miss students are white, while 36 percent are non-white. USM leaders say appreciating each other's diverse backgrounds will make the students' academic experience more enriching and meaningful.

"We want to engage in these challenging conversations so we can help students to make sure they recognize these are things we value every day," said Burton. "This is an opportunity for us to recognize that taking everyone's voice and taking everyone's experience into consideration is essential. I think it's important that we do that in a proactive way, so we are having these conversations before something happens."

Dr. Rodney Bennett has also taken steps to promote diversity year-round. When he took over as USM President, he reinstated the Institutional Diversity Committee.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly