By Abigale DeLavalle
Junior Jasmine Thomas opened up about her position as the diversity chair for the Undergraduate Student Association (USA), what she has accomplished, and hopes to accomplish in her position, which includes spreading awareness about racial issues.
By creating strong ties on campus and spreading awareness about issues such as race, Thomas hopes to “coordinate efforts in diversity for campus” in her role.
When asked why she was interested in running for her role, Thomas said that, “One thing I really noticed was that in our diversity, which our school does not have much of, like I don’t want to give an exact number, but it’s definitely under 10% of people of color at Canisius, I saw that we were lacking in some of our aspects of promoting.”
She was appalled that Black History Month was only one program, or that there was only one Black history class offered, and it was only through the honors program.
“The reason why I really ran for the role was, like, throwing awareness around campus that it’s not just like, ‘Oh you can take one class and learn everything you need to know about diversity.’ It’s something that’s ongoing,” Thomas said.
Thomas also clarified that she works on bringing the spotlight not only to race, but to sexuality, religion and even differences in where students grew up.
One of her upcoming events is a photo campaign focusing on microaggressions that people face on campus in terms of how they are presented. A student can submit a photo of themselves and then talk about themselves, who they are, what makes them happy or sad — that way people can get to know them without stereotypes. You can check this campaign out at Today at Canisius if you are interested.
Thomas is a biology major on the path to pre-med, and was drawn to Canisius because of its hometown feel.
“I really like the small community here. Made me feel like a part of an intricate family,” she said. She is part of many clubs including the Afro-American Society and Minority Association for Prehealth Students (MAPS) of which she is the secretary. She is also a tutor for biology and chemistry intro classes.
Thomas also wants the student body to know that you shouldn’t be afraid to join a group or club even if you don’t fit the stereotypical mold. It is all about community and building relationships. “We have our little niches within, and we’re still all family. You can see that in the tunnel. Just because people have different places that they might chill, at the end of the day we’re Canisius students.”