New President F. Javier Cevallos emphasized his focus on increasing diversity initiatives on campus in his address at the Multicultural Center’s social last Tuesday, beginning with the search to hire a Chief Diversity Officer.
Cevallos spoke of his experience in a diverse world, from his birth in Ecuador, to moving to Puerto Rico at age 14, and then to Illinois in 1976, where he “discovered a different world.
“It was cold and the banks at the time didn’t allow people to speak Spanish. There were things in the newspapers about cashiers being fired because they were speaking Spanish to each other,” he said.
Cevallos met his wife at University of Maine Orono, where she had been Editor of a bilingual student newspaper that worked as a “subversive French language newspaper.”
He remembered thinking it odd that French was a controversial language, since he had only experienced discrimination against the Spanish language. He added that so many factors such as history change the way a particular region views different cultures.
“You realize that multiculturalism is only a portion of what we have to do to really advance an agenda for all that is inclusion for everybody. So my vision – I’ve always said that the simplest diversity statement that we can have is one that says, ‘At Framingham, we respect every single person.’ There. That’s it.”
He added that this is easier said than done, but a culture of acceptance and unity should be the goal. He said that offering the resources necessary for this push is essential to seeing this goal accomplished.
Co-Chair of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion Millie Gonzalez said, “We’ve come a long way. Just to see the president show up and be so gracious, and really, speak to some of the concerns that we’ve been advocating for without us prompting him, is spectacular. I’m so hopeful.”
Cameron Zamagni, a student intern at the Multicultural Center, said Cevallos’ speech “touched on great points,” including the focus on unity throughout the campus.
He added he was glad to see the school is making a commitment to diversity.
Carolyn Mase, an officer of Latinos in Action and a junior Spanish major and secondary education minor, said, “It is a great idea to have a Diversity Officer to make more events and speakers to promote diversity on campus.”
Director of the Multicultural Center Kathy Martinez said she likes to see the administration “put some money where their mouth is, so to speak. We’re getting people putting money into places like this. I’m excited to see where it will go.”