Undergraduate Student Government members gather together to support the #TogetherWeAre campaign. Credit: Courtesy of Jacob Chang

Ohio State’s three student governments are coming together this semester for their first collaborative diversity and inclusion initiative. 

In collaboration with Ohio State’s Council of Graduate Students and the Inter-Professional Council, Undergraduate Student Government has helped launch the #TogetherWeAre campaign on campus. The campaign is part of a similar effort to close the divide between different cultures on campus with USG’s Embrace the Difference campaign, Jacob Chang, a second-year in political science and psychology and deputy director of the diversity and inclusion committee, said.

According to an Ohio State press release, the campaign builds on work the three organizations started during the fall 2019 semester, including the first cross-governmental Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which is co-chaired by representatives from each of the three student government administrations.

Chang said #TogetherWeAre has a broader focus. 

“Embrace the Difference is more focused on how to bridge the gap with different communities and how to use the differences to embrace them and use the differences to build this bridge of culture appreciation, mutual solidarity, advocacy and respect,” Chang said. “That is kind of the goal — is a more specific focus — but #TogetherWeAre is like the umbrella term that holds these ideas under it.”

Chang said the event takes place throughout the course of a week under the signature event, Community Week, during which the Diversity Summit, Embrace the Difference and CGS events will also happen.

Davonti’ Haynes, Ph.D. student in agricultural communication, education and leadership treasurer for CGS, said the council looked at ways to create a campaign that would last long-term.

“At the beginning of the year, we talked about a lot of different things that we really wanted to focus on this year,” Haynes said. “One of those was diversity and inclusion and the other being mental health, and we knew we wanted to do some very intentional programming and long-term programming. We didn’t want to do just some one-off programming.”

Part of the campaign began with a photo and video shoot that took place on Ohio State’s campus and will help launch the campaign in mid-March. The photo shoot included students in T-shirts with the names of prominent Ohio State faculty or alumni who led initiatives for a more inclusive university, including Yvette McGee Brown, the first African American woman to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court, and John S. Evans, Black Student Union leader, the release stated.

According to the press release, the photos will be displayed on the Campus Area Bus System beginning Feb. 23, and in the Ohio Union and campus buildings March 16-31.

Over the course of the semester, the three governments will collaborate on the first Buckeye Chat and the continuing Buckeye Dialogue series, both of which involve conversations about diversity among students, faculty, staff and community leaders, according to the release. 

Additionally, USG, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Student Life Multicultural Center are planning a Diversity Summit to generate action items used to promote diversity and inclusion on campus, the release stated. 

The hope is that this campaign will continue at Ohio State for years to come, Lei Guo, a fourth-year in political science and public management, leadership and policy, said.

”We were saying hopefully that can be carried on and it can be more of a giant effort, so this is the first time that we create a giant diversity and inclusion committee between USG, CGS and IPC to make sure that we will be on the same page to promote the diversity and inclusion issue,” Guo said.

Students can join the campaign during Community Week, which begins March 20 with USG’s Diversity Summit, Chang said.