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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

New task force, student-led efforts make pathway for symbols of inclusivity on campus

Zemira Recio / Hilltop Views
Residents at Basil Moreau Hall hang several flags in the building’s main lobby. Each flag represents different racial, ethnic and social identities that students are a part of.

In early March, the Pride flag in Meadows Coffeehouse was reinstalled as a response to St. Edward’s University student and community concerns. In addition to the reinstallation, the Office of Student Belonging and Inclusive Excellence (OSBIE) works to continue adding more visible symbols of inclusion and implementing initiatives that improve and increase representation.

One of these initiatives includes the Inclusive Symbols and Actions Task Force, a leadership committee run by co-chairs Erica Zamora, director of the OSBIE, and Alexandra Barron, associate professor of literature. The committee consists of 12 members: four students, four faculty members and four staff members. The group’s purpose is to carry out plans of action to help represent students’ identities.

“We want to think beyond visible symbols and think about actions, policies and how we can really make campus not just look more inclusive, but make sure our policies make people feel welcome in the sense of belonging,” Barron said.

One of the initiatives is implementing a change to the university’s name policy to help prevent deadnaming transgender and nonbinary students. Another proposal that is in the works, according to Barron, involves having a designated floor in a residence hall for LGBTQ+ students and allies.

“Starting this summer, we are designing the idea,” Barron said. “Yes, students are involved, and we are going to start advertising in the fall for next year. Hopefully by fall 2025, we will have themed gender inclusive housing.”

Junior Grace Ford is currently one of the student representatives on a subcommittee of the task force. They express that students having active involvement with these changes helps reiterate queer visibility.

“Having inclusive symbols for me, like seeing those flags somewhere, I know I’m being seen, even though I feel so niche sometimes,” Ford said. “It lets me know that this is a place that I can be seen and understood and listened to.”

Outside of the committee, individual students also showcase their own ways to make St. Edward’s more visibly inclusive to other diverse groups.

Of the four flags hung in Basil Moreau Hall, two of them include the Black Lives Matter Flag and a serape. Other flags and inclusive symbols have appeared in residence halls like the St. Andre Apartments. (Zemira Recio)

For example, students in the Basil Moreau Residence Hall have hung several representative banners and flags in the hall’s main lobby. The flags include progressive Pride, Stop Asian Hate, feminism, Black Lives Matter, United Farm Workers and a serape banner. Sophomore Avery Ramirez explains that she appreciates these symbols that represent different racial, ethnic and cultural identities. 

“I am Hispanic, and I feel like they push for showing different people’s heritage,” Ramirez said. “So, I feel like that’s something that I feel included by.”

Student groups, like SEU’s Latino Student Leadership Organization (LSLO), are also working to make resources more known to students of certain communities. Freshman Monica Rodriguez, first-generation student and member of LSLO, explains these groups she is a part of also have ongoing projects to help with their visibility on campus. She mentions that the LSLO board wants to put up a flag or symbol that represents their group on campus. She also expresses the efforts being put into effect to make existing inclusive spaces more accessible and aware to students. 

“In the Moody building, on the first floor, they have a first gen(eration) room, but it’s in the corner, so not many people are aware of that space,” Rodriguez said. “I want more students to know that that space is always available to them.”

As efforts continue being made, these symbols and initiatives are being made visible to reflect the values of the university to its students, staff and faculty.

“It just goes with talk about the Holy Cross values, and social inclusion, I think, is a reason why a lot of students come here,” Ramirez said. “So, I think it’s important that they do have symbols because it makes us feel welcome.”

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About the Contributor
Zemira Recio
Zemira Recio, Staff Writer
Zemira is a freshman and this is her first year being a Staff Writer for Hilltop Views. She is a political science major and aspires to become a lawyer someday. When she's not writing or doing schoolwork, her favorite past times are reading and painting.

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