Jenna Ashworth is the current vice president of Trinity Diversity Connection (TDC). Having been a member for two full academic years, she has also served as the sophomore representative and public relations officer. As the vice president, she now serves a role important for supporting the president and organization in meeting their goals.
One of her primary reasons for joining, as stated by Ashworth, was the lack of diversity and community on campus. It was important to her to find a campus as diverse as her middle and high schools, but she found a completely different reality upon arriving at Trinity as a freshman.
“Trinity wasn’t what it was marketed to me as. Diversity was the goal [in joining TDC].” said Ashworth.
Through Trinity Diversity Connection, Ashworth has attempted to make the campus environment a more understanding and diverse place, through community outreach and student engagement.
Over the summer, TDC released a statement in partnership with Black Student Union (BSU) and African Student Association (ASA), in response to statements made by Trinity University administration in light of police brutality and racial tensions in the United States. Ashworth discussed the extensive process they went through in creating their statement.
“[We] wanted to be there as an organization to facilitate support for BSU and ASA. Several meetings had to happen to decide the language of the letter and action items.” said Ashworth.
The statement released by TDC, BSU and ASA contained several action items they had planned for the university community to address. It received a lot of attention from Trinity students, both activists and students on the outskirts of the activist community.
The statement inspired others at Trinity to speak out. Over 200 faculty and staff members at Trinity released their own statement to align themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the events of this past summer. A wave of social media activism has cropped up on Instagram for Trinity students. Student orginizations have also increased their social media prescence.
In addition, Trinity Diversity Connection held several events including allyship workshops and movie screenings. TDC screened 13th, Netflix’s documentary exploring racial inequity in the United States’ prison system, and Kiki, with PRIDE. Movie screenings were followed by discussions with students attending the screenings. The focus of these events was educating and supporting students in allyship. This summer was marked by major social upheaval and protest, inspiring many to advocate for change. With everyone physically separated, online communities became even more important in keeping students engaged together.
“This summer was really different because of all the things happening in the world and being virtual… we wanted to make sure there was a way people could feel connected and supported.” said Ashworth.
One of the ways that online engagement has benefited many student organizations is increased student engagement. With many events recorded and available to attend or view at a later time, it becomes easier for students to participate in events sponsored by student organizations. TDC saw a rise in engagement particularly with their activism workshops, as noted by Ashworth.
“Turnout for the events was really great compared to some past events. We’ve had as little as 15 at some events there were 200 people at our first allyship workshop.” said Ashworth.
Increased participation, particularly in allyship workshops, can only serve to increase awareness among Trinity students and encourage them to get involved and help in any way they can.
Ashworth is passionate about the work she does with TDC and has been encouraged by the positive response from the community.
“It’s really fulfilling to see people attend our events and stay engaged. A constant interest from the community is super empowering and encourages me to continue what I’m doing for TDC.” said Ashworth.
The events over this past summer run by TDC and their positive response have led to higher student engagement.