Campus minority organizations hold Town Hall meeting

Supervisors+of+seven+minority+groups+on+campus+joined+a+town+hall+meeting+Tuesday+evening+at+the+Materials+Science+and+Engineering+Building+to+discuss+their+purposes.

Supervisors of seven minority groups on campus joined a town hall meeting Tuesday evening at the Materials Science and Engineering Building to discuss their purposes.

By Yi Zhu

Leaders of seven minority groups on campus held a town hall meeting Tuesday evening at the Materials Science and Engineering Building.

The meeting was held in response to a column published by The Daily Illini on Oct. 2 that discussed the Society of Women in Engineering. Some believed the column looked at the organization — and organizations like it — in a negative light.

Stephanie Lona, president of the Society of Women in Engineering, said the town hall meeting also served as a way to let people know the significance of minority organizations.

“In my first ever engineering class, there was only one girl — which was me — out of 30 people,” Lona said. “So it was actually very evident to me that I was a minority.”

She said the reason these organizations exist is to form a sense of community.

Terrance Phillips, president of the National Society of Black Engineers, said minority organizations provide a support system to minority students and give them a space where they belong. He said women in engineering often feel discouraged after receiving unequal treatment. However, by joining minority organizations and seeing other women who are also engineering majors, it can help build up their confidence and keep on going.

Minority organizations are not set up mainly for women in Engineering; people of all genders and races who feel they are a minority in their field can join these organizations.

“We provide an inclusive environment, and we attract students of all backgrounds,” said Vox Dombek, co-president of Society of Women In Physics.

Dombek said the minority organizations cooperate and collaborate with other organizations to give students more opportunities. When students first join the organization, they are often guided by an older “sister” or “brother” from the same major who offers them professional advice. The organizations also have programs to instruct students on how to deal with problems they might face in class or in life.

When asked how to treat gender discrimination on campus and improve gender equality, Phillips said he believes the education and job opportunities at the University are almost equal; rather, it is more of a visibility issue.

Often, minority students don’t believe they can enjoy the same opportunity as other students, Phillips said, so minority organization help these students and encourage them to pursue their goals.

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