Illustration by Mike Domina

This fall, the university’s first Equity Summit brought together more than 450 students, faculty, staff, and alumni to focus on inclusivity. Students, led by Hijab Fatima, ’21, and Tommy Na, ’22, organized the event. Originally scheduled for spring, it was postponed because of COVID-19 and held virtually on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1.

“I’m a big believer in Tommy and Hijab, who led the Equity Summit, as well as [2019 alumna] Lina Tori Jan, who suggested the idea last spring,” said political science professor Monti Datta, who helped the students plan the event.

“Moving the summit from an in-person model to a virtual platform was definitely very challenging as we only had three months to put everything together,” Fatima said. “This included choosing the sessions, reaching out to potential facilitators and the administration to get their support, as well as looping in numerous student organizations and student development bodies as allies.”

Six sessions covered topics such as LGBTQIA+, xenophobia, violence prevention, anti-Semitism, white privilege, and Africana studies.

“This has also been a humbling moment for us because we realize we have so much farther to go in helping the UR community dive into much-needed but difficult conversations in the realm of racial and social justice,” Fatima said.

The group wanted to take action on inclusivity efforts on campus, Fatima said, and normalize talking about those efforts among students. She said the plan is for the Equity Summit to become a yearly tradition designed to inspire and empower the community.