SGA’s ‘The Table’ promotes healthy conversation between students and faculty about diversity on campus and in life
Azusa Pacific continued to make an effort to promote student diversity on campus with the Student Government Association’s (SGA) annual “Student Summit X Table” event on wednesday night.
Students and faculty gathered around tables in the Cougar Dome to be in community, enjoy a meal and talk about diversity in their individual lives.
“The purpose of ‘The Table’ is to create dialogue between students, faculty and staff,” said SGA International Representative Karina Baugus. “It’s really just to talk about issues on campus, get to know more people and hear from their heart about what they believe and where they come from.”
The theme of the event was diversity through storytelling. With many staff and students from different backgrounds, the focus was to voice the good and bad about their cultural experiences both on and off campus.
“The most important thing was being able to listen to other people’s stories and to share your story as well,” said Tajianna Okechukwu, president of the Black Student Association (BSA). “I think there’s a lot of power in conversation.”
Okechukwu was one of the many students in attendance who shared their personal experience. Members of APU’s administrative staff and campus pastors were in attendance as well. Associate Vice President of Student Life Willie Hamlett, Vice President of Student Life Shino Simons and Campus Pastor Ta’Tyana Leonard all joined in on the conversations.
“Our stories are different. We’re not the same and there’s beauty in that,” said Simons. “God created us, and there’s something for us to really appreciate about each other’s stories.”
After being served a dinner provided by SGA, the conversations began. The night started with ice breaker questions such as, “Is water wet?” and “Does pineapple belongs on pizza?” After that, questions were put up on a projector for attendees to reference and discuss.
A short video was played before the first set of questions. The video was about how people struggle with the ways we were designed and created by God. A quote was left on the screen at the end of the video that read, “Harmony exists when your identity aligns with God’s design.”
This set up the students and faculty to discuss a series of questions with the themes of cultural and racial identity.
“Diversity isn’t incompasing one thing,” Baugus said. “Even though we come from very different background[s], we do have stuff in common … shared hurt and shared victories.”
Baugus talked about the significance of ‘The Table.’
“Although a lot of faculty and staff have office hours … We think it’s important to keep those lines of communication, because a lot of students don’t utilize those opportunities,” Baugus said. “So we have a place where they can come together, discuss and learn from one another.”
This event concludes the SGA year. They will continue to hold events for students and faculty alike again during the fall semester.