IU Student Government executive branch members led the first IUSG town hall meeting of this semester Thursday.
The focus of this meeting was equity and inclusion on campus. The meeting was led by students Maiya Cook and Eliza Craig, IUSG directors of equity and inclusion.
Cook and Craig brought up four key issues straining equity and inclusion at IU and some possible policies that could be made to address these problems.
These four issues were segregation between certain social groups on campus, access to or lack of knowledge regarding where to access kosher or halal options on campus, international student troubles with immersion and lack of awareness or acceptance regarding varying gender identities and sexualities.
Looking at the kosher and halal food issue on campus, Cook pointed out that there are a lack of dining options for students who have dietary restrictions due to faith. In order to address this issue, Residential Programs and Services is working to create a full kosher kitchen, which would be run by the Helene G. Simon Hillel center, Cook said.
When preparing kosher foods, there cannot be cross-contamination of dairy and meat, and there cannot be any pork.
“It’s important to have a kosher kitchen because RPS clearly serves pork, and they clearly serve cheese or dairy and meat in the same kitchen,” Cook said.
Craig also said there is a lack of awareness regarding where to obtain these foods on campus.
Even though Eastern Harvest, located in Wright dining hall, has been providing halal options since 2017, many Muslims, including those living at Wright, do not know these options are provided, Cook said. In order to address this issue, Cook and Craig are working to more clearly advertise these halal options and also work on adding the education of what halal and kosher options are to RPS dining training.
According to Cook, RPS employees are not given training on the basis of what kosher and halal is.
“When students come to them and say, ‘Does this meet this requirement?’ one day they might say yes and the next they might say no,” Craig said. “So it’s about talking about how we can change RPS training to make sure that’s in the conversation.”
Following the discussion regarding their focuses and initiatives, Craig and Cook opened the floor for comments. Other executive branch members not leading the meeting and, a newlyelected legislative representative and other IU students raised their hands and participated in the conversation.
IUSG off-campus housing representative Cassiday Moriarity suggested a survey passed out at every first class each semester to give students the opportunity to write down anything students feel their professors need to know, such as their pronouns or that English is not their first language. This would help fix some of the issues addressed by Cook and Craig pertaining to international and gender queer students.
Sophomore Lexi Mergell talked about a positive experience she had in the classroom in which the instructor initiated the conversation regarding gender identity and pronouns. This removed the awkwardness and allowed her and other students to open up and discuss their gender identity and other similar topics, Mergell said.
“Just literally talking about it and opening up has made such a difference,” Mergell said.