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Meet Phyllis Dugan!

Name: Phyllis Dugan
Year: Sophomore
Major: RTVF
Hometown: LA, California

What are involved with on campus?:
Outgoing Vice President of Communications for Inspire Media, Outgoing Vice President of External Relations for FMO, McGaw YMCA, Communication Century Scholar

What is the background behind the I Am A ______ campaign?
If you saw the movie with Kellyn talking, after he was done talking, that we had a brainstorm with the people that were there. We started talking about: “What are we going to do? We gotta do something. We gotta get the word out so people know what happened.”…And the problem was that people have all these different labels…and this campaign was just trying to put those things out there…to say: “This is what someone may see me as, but I’m not that, I’m something else. That label you want to attach to me is not who I am.” That’s why we had all these “I Am’s.” And there’s also a Tumblr with all the different stories [http://nucollectivestories.tumblr.com]…it’s about our stories being told and not what the media may attach to us…but what are we going to claim…that was the point in having a bold title to get people to go look at the Tumblr. The Tumblr was the most important part, to get people to see the stories that are there.

What has your role been in this movement?
First the actual footage of Kellyn, I didn’t film. But I was the only one that had the equipment and software to actually produce it, edit and put it onto the web…and then I put it on my Vimeo page so it could be source for everyone to get to. And then from that, I just started recording every time something was going on, because my biggest thing is documenting everything. Because so many times these movements happen there’s not that much documentation about them and I feel it’s really important to leave behind a legacy, so people will know what you did and how to learn from that….And especially to have our voices tell the story and not [someone else], I think it’s important to hear the story from someone that was actually there and not from someone who heard about it from someone else who heard about it from some else who heard about it from someone else….I just wanted to make sure the story was told in, I guess, the most cohesive way, because I feel like a lot of the media, especially on Northwestern’s campus can be really one-sided. And for me I just wanted to show…the perspective I had to express. I feel that when people are speaking so passionately about something it’s really easy to misconstrue those things, so that’s why I thought it was important to make sure that you heard the student’s voices and their words and not someone quoting half of what they’re saying; quoting a piece of this and piece of that to become a hodgepodge, but really to tell the story.

What are the goals of the movement?
One of the goals was for the diversity reports. That was the real push for the I Am Campaign, was to have university present the Diversity report and have the students see it. That has been released and its online and students can view that….Another thing that we’re pushing for is just to have more resources for MSA, Multicultural Student Affairs. That’s been something we’ve tried to get more people to talk about and get more people to think about. We have this minority community whose staff and resources are understaffed and needy….Also another main thing that’s really been pushed…is the Cultural Competency course, which I believe has been renamed. Out of all the things the Diversity Initiative has been pushing, that’s one thing students are talking about, that administration has been talking about, that everyone has been thinking about: “Is this a good idea?” I think a lot of people think it’s a good idea but a lot of people struggle with how can it be accomplished. Another thing is to increase minority enrollment. Thats four main things the Diversity Initiative is pushing. [Phyllis later contacted HC again to update that another goal they have is “that we are striving to get…a Chief Diversity Officer.”]

What is the student body reaction? The admin reaction?
Some people have said we have been too mean to administration. Some people say we should apologize to administration…which I don’t agree with. I don’t feel like anything has been done that’s so radical. When someone is so passionate about something its hard to operate in that sense of decorum. But sometimes we take so much time to think about how can we be polite and how can we nice…and then we waste time not really addressing the issue. Everything has gone pretty smoothly, to have all these difference of opinions, except that Daily Article, which was interesting. I think it was interesting to attack, three students. It’s not just them who are a part of this. This Diversity Initiative, is much more than Kellyn, Dallas and Paul. It’s not just them that are working on it. There’s a whole group of people that are all up late hours when they should be sleeping or should be doing homework, working on this…But to put all this onus on them [Kellyn, Dallas and Paul], like they are the sole ones doing this and put all the blame on them, then I feel like that’s completely wrong. And that’s another reason I felt it was important to document everything so we could see the voices, besides the ones that contend with the lies.

What do you hope to see change on this campus?
One thing I’d like to see is that when these initiatives come is for them not go directly to the male voice. There are a lot of women in involved who are equally as vocal, but may not be the target the media is looking for. So I would like to a better awareness of the diversity as a whole, instead of discussing on only one sex, but instead showing how we are all working toward one goal. Another thing is that…I think it would be awesome for Northwestern to take on this situation and say: “This is a Northwestern problem,” because I feel so many times when different events happen, they always want to place them on a small section of students…I feel like it’s important for Northwestern to acknowledge that this is the culture that is on campus and we are going to do something about it…When somebody in your student body is hurting that affects you too, whether you know it or not. I mean we talk about how we are Northwestern, we are Wildcats and if one of my Wildcats is hurting, that affects me and I need to be aware of that pain and seek out to understand that hurt and that pain…We have to prepare ourselves to go into this world to be future leaders. How can you be a leader if you don’t know how to operate in a space that’s diverse? If you don’t know how to work with people? Oh! I would love for Northwestern to actually look like its viewbook. If you look at Northwestern’s viewbook, its always “Oh my god it’s so diverse, so many faces, it looks like everyone is so happy, it looks so multicultural…and its like when you get here its like…where are all the people?” We can’t keep talking about how much “we are a family” if you’re not willing enough to put the work into that to make it work. Having relationships and being a part of a family is work…so if we’re going to keep talking this “we are a family” mantra, then let’s really live that out.

 

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