Diversity and inclusivity have become buzzwords amongst higher education institutions. In recent years, universities have been pushing to create a diverse student body, but many have yet to figure out how to make the environment inclusive. Creating an atmosphere in which all people, regardless of their skin colour, gender, sexual orientation or disability feel valued and respected and have access to the same opportunities.
In conjunction with “Monash, Everyone Matters”campaign, Student Experience decided to kick start the campaign by having the staircase at the Delta Gate painted in rainbow colours to symbolise inclusivity. As all seven colours merge into one, it represents each and every one of us putting our differences aside and uniting as a one community. And if you are wondering why the staircase specifically, it represents the university reaching to greater heights.
The event was held on a Tuesday, 31stof July from 3 to 6 in the afternoon. Students and faculty members were more than welcome to join along this historical moment. In spite of the scorching heat, groups of students were prepared to make a difference once they put on their gloves and masks. The Wom*n’s Officers’ team first started off by assigning a colour to each step.
Over time, more students assembled around, patiently waiting to do their part. After painting the edge of the stairs, many of them excitedly took photos of their masterpiece, proudly proclaiming their participation on social media. Seeing how cheerful everyone looked, I decided to join in and painted one of the stairs. As the event ended, I felt energized taking in the vibrant colours radiating against the background of the sunset.
Melinda Damodaram, one of the organizers explained that this is the first of its kind in Monash University Malaysia. With the birth of the New Malaysia after the 14thgeneral election, Monash Malaysia now enjoys the freedom to organise an impactful and relevant event. When asked on the inspiration behind this theme, she gave full credit to Student Experience who brilliantly came up with this concept of inclusivity to advocate zero tolerance for discrimination on campus ground.
This would also be the first step in supporting a more inclusive learning environment, embracing uncomfortable conversations and challenging the status quo. Moreover, Monash Malaysia University has agreed to paint 16 walls around the campus in the near future in conjunction with this campaign. This is a big and impressive step Monash Malaysia has decided to take on.
The notion behind this idea, “Monash, Everyone Matters” is to foster meaningful conversations between people from different backgrounds, otherwise students will fall into the all-too-comfortable habits of self-segregation. In the effort to prepare young people for the real world, it should be one of the core facets of universities to expose students to diverse communities to cultivate acceptance and mutual respect.
Taking off from this event, I urge every student out there to proactively seek out campus organizations and activities that can shape their very own experiences and accept each other’s differences. Take advantage of the opportunities that university has to offer and enrich their outlook in life. It is up to us to make a difference in our society. Every single one of us are equipped with unique talent that could make an impactful and momentous change to our society.
Article by Ashreka Kalaichelvan
Photos by Marium Imran