Fairfield is often stereotyped as having a Caucasian, preppy and wealthy student body. But “diverse” is gradually inching its way onto the list.

The different colored flyers decorating nearly every wall around campus remind students of the three groups that were awarded grants for their proposed projects to promote diversity.

The increasing popularity of the diversity grant programs coupled with the open-minded, motivated students and faculty has intensified this initiative on campus.

The Student Diversity Grants/Brinkman Diversity Grants program was founded at Fairfield with a gift from the Earl W. and Hildagunda A. Brinkman Private Charitable Foundation and the Humanities Institute of the College of Arts ‘ Sciences.

These donations have been supplemented with generous support from the Academic Vice President Orin Grossman; Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Mark Reed; University President Fr. Jeffrey von Arx; Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Raymond Poincelot; and the Dolan School of Business, the Center for Multicultural Relations, FUSA and UMOJA.

Director of the program and psychology professor Elizabeth Gardner said, “This is a permanent project that is increasing in popularity each year. It’s neat because it gives students a chance to work with funds that are granted directly to them for their own ideas.”

“This year it even became an FYE event just to attend the presentation ceremony, which definitely brought us some added attention,” she added.

The three groups awarded grants this year were: “Project Peg” by Katie Carroll ’09, Anne Krane ’09, Liz Mercadante ’09 and Sarah Zybert ’09; “Accented Perceptions: Fairfield University as a Space of (Dis)Integration for Foreign Students and Faculty,” by Katerine Boutros ’08 and Amenda Le Gros ’08; and “‘Am I Racist?’ Exploring Unconscious Biases and Stereotypes Among Fairfield University Students,” by Rachael Harriman ’08 and Stephanie Chavarro ’08.

According to the University Web site, “The purpose of the grant is to encourage collaborative work among members of the Fairfield University community.”

The program awards three groups a maximum of $1,500 to be put toward planning and executing programs to support their causes and areas of concentration.

A presentation will be held on March 25 at the Quick Center for the three groups to update the Fairfield community on the projects they created and their ideas for the future.

“Project Peg” project coordinator Mercadante said, “We worked with the group who began Project Peg last year. We were really good friends with them. We loved to work with them and continue to extend the message of the group.”

“We want to get rid of the negative stereotypes associated with feminism. Feminists are not bra-burning man-haters, every girl and guy can be feminist and learn to respect the rights of women and treat them equally,” she said.

Secretary of academics for FUSA, Jimmarck Perel C. Cuenta ’08, served as an adviser to all of the groups and the only student representative on the board of judges.

He said, “I was very objective being the adviser. I helped students make contacts with faculty to ensure that it not be limited only to students.”

“The ultimate goal of the program is to homogenize the campus and turn it into a living and learning campus for everyone here. We have to encourage faculty, administrators and the student community not to pass judgment based on outward appearances, and continue to make strides in becoming an accepting community,” said Cuenta.

Click to read more about student diversity grants

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