Photos Courtesy of Kara Wheeler
by Kara Wheeler, Reporter
“Our goal is to expose, educate, and engage the student body with topics like these, ” Mallory Miller, Aquinas’ Assistant Director of the Center of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (CDI&E), said to a group of students at the Forum on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
Juniors Maura Maloney and Karoline Coley, two members of the Student Senate, along with CDI&E, led a discussion about missing and murdered Indigenous women, followed by a dreamcatcher making event for Aquinas students on November 10th at the Moose.
The forum was composed of Miller and two others: Career Development and Advantage Center professor, Dr. Linda Keway, and Sociology professor, Dr. Jen Lendrum.
Inspiration for the event struck after news of missing and murdered 22-year-old female Gabby Petito unfolded and gained national recognition in August this past year. Petitio’s tragic kidnapping and brutal murder quickly gained national interest and sustained a major presence on social media.
Esmeralda Ruiz, a senior member of the Student Senate, said that “After Gabby Petito, I started thinking about indigenous people and how many go missing and how underrepresented the media can be… [Media] can be biased and we as a society can become blind to it.”
Each member of the panel spoke on their background on Indigenous people and its contribution to their take on the underrepresentation that minorities face in the news.
When asked about the social impact of missing and murdered Indigenous women, Lendrum, who conducted ethnographic research on gender-based violence in Detroit, broadened the discussion to include all women who are doubted when revealing they experience harassment of any kind, saying, “Trust women. Believe all women.”
To combat the lack of representation of minorities in the media, Miller spoke on her, “seat at the table,” as a woman who is passionate about social change concerning people of color. She has, “awareness of the issues,” and when asked for advice on what Aquinas College students can do to raise awareness, she told them to, “find a news source [they] trust … doing so will increase their awareness of important issues and increase their ability to be informed and become engaged in change making by leveraging their seat at the table.”
Aquinas offers courses and clubs for those who are interested in topics of minority underrepresentation. Dr. Lendrum recommended taking one of her sociology classes. Dr. Keway is currently developing a class on current events and their social influence. Miller advised students to become a policy expert by partaking in committee groups like school boards, commissions, or even public office.