Diversity Monologues: a night of sharing

Shelsea Deravil

shderavil@ursinus.edu

On March 20, a number of participants shared their personal stories with an audience of CIE students, professors, and the UC community as part of the Diversity Monologues.

According to the Ursinus College website, the Diversity Monologues are “a compilation of uncensored, open, and free monologues that are meant to share with the Ursinus Community how it feels for different students to be themselves on campus and in the greater community.” The Diversity Monologues are meant to evoke feelings of unity and togetherness between the speakers and audience members by sharing stories and personal experiences. The event is one of the few times when the Ursinus community can gather as one and listen to students’ stories and learn more about the many diverse identities on campus.

The event was sponsored by UCARE and the Bonner Pro- gram, and had Bonner students Emily Shiplett ’20, Jennifer Berrios ’22, Thea Pastras ’21, Chase Opperman ’21, and Emily Harris ’21 co-hosting this year. Berrios said, “[it] can give a platform to so many POC students…it is encouraging to have [them] be brave and voice their stories because it is important being in a [primarily white institution].” Berrios would like to participate in the future Diversity Monologues event and talk about her family’s immigration problems.

Shiplett, who co-hosted for the first time, discussed new changes in this year’s event. “In previous years, students have felt uncomfortable or ill prepared for the intensity of some monologues,” Shiplett began. “To combat this, we reached out to CIE professors to provide verbal trigger warnings to their classes.” Shiplett added that there were Peer Advocates outside the Lenfest Theatre auditorium in case students needed some comfort or support during or after the event. The doors were propped open
in case students got uncomfortable and decided to leave. Monologues were introduced before starting, so students in the audience were able to prepare themselves for what was shared.

In terms of collaborating with her Bonner teammates and getting the work done, Shiplett stated, “tons of work was put into planning and creating this event. [But] the event truly relies on the willingness of the students to share their experiences to the rest of the campus.”

The speakers spoke on a variety of topics such as sexual assault, drugs, disabilities, and race. Some of the speakers were Emily Riley, Tyree Williams- Jackson, Paul Vecchio, Kiley Addis, and Jailene Rodriguez.

The hope is that the event was especially meaningful to first year students. The CIE Questions, including “What should matter to me,” “how should we live together,” and “what will I do?” were part of the academic aspect of the CIE Common Event.

For Berrios, this was a new experience for her. “I know this can be a very emotional event,” Berrios said before the event, “and I expect to be very open minded to everyone’s stories. This [event will] really answer ‘How should we live together?’”