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Championing Inclusion at SCU

Yesenia Magdaleno '20, Library Diversity Fellow
Yesenia Magdaleno

As a first-generation, Mexican-American student from a small agricultural town, I found myself contemplating whether SCU was the right place for me.

I regretted the thought of leaving, and transferring to another school, but there were moments where I felt a lack of support from departments on campus. I had no idea where to turn next.

After talking through my feelings with my parents, employers, friends and basically anyone who would listen, I discovered that I was not comfortable on campus because I had lost the sense of community and belonging I felt in my first week of college.

During LEAD Week, a transitional program for first-gen college students, I met others who were also afraid of taking this giant leap into higher education. Thanks to this incredible program, I felt a sense of belonging during the first difficult weeks of college. 

Once I left LEAD Week and started my studies, I found no other groups of people who had similar stories to my own. I struggled to find friends who could help me find my way over this unpaved road. I found myself leaning towards libraries as my sanctuary, as places I have always felt comfortable in.

Last year, I was thrilled to be accepted into the SCU Library's Diversity Fellowship. It's allowed me to pursue the projects that interest me the most, ones that help create a more welcoming environment for everyone at Santa Clara.

One idea suggested to me by library staff was to host a screening and discussion of (In)Tolerance, a documentary by former SCU professor Yahia Mahamdi. The film covers a variety of incidents at SCU over the past decade. It reflects on the meaning of Jesuit traditions and ideals, interspersed with stories of racism, sexism, and discrimination that have affected the campus climate.

The first time that I watched (In)Tolerance, I realized that I was not the only one with feelings of discomfort on SCU’s beautiful campus. There were many other people feeling similar ways for different reasons. As part of my fellowship, I worked with a team to bring this relevant film to a large screen for the Santa Clara community to view this spring.

Since the Campus Climate Survey was completed recently, there was no better time to bring together visual history and the survey results to talk about how Santa Clara is changing. At the screening, faculty and students explored: How else can Santa Clara walk the talk on creating a diverse, inclusive community?

May 20, 2019