Over the past six months, the world has experienced an influx of social activism through both social media and protests for institutional action. In response, a group of students at IE University formed a committee with the intention to hold their university community accountable for the same values.
Diversity is a core value at IE University and as recent international events have brought the topic to the forefront of discussion, students are even more driven to maintain social justice and equality across campus. IE University alum, Lyana Nlandou-Tchibindat, who currently serves as the co-head of IE University’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, sat down with us to talk about the committee’s ideas and intentions.
Originally from the Republic of Congo, Lyana has lived in six different countries and places a strong importance on diversity and inclusion. She was a student in the Master of International Development in the 2019-2020 academic year and is highly passionate about social justice reform.
What is the IE Diversity and Inclusion Committee and how did it begin?
The committee was formed after the murder of George Floyd by police in the United States in May 2020. The original committee began with alum, Naima, but is now led by Lyana and her fellow IE University alum, Rayo.
The group is not an official club on campus, but rather a committee. Their main goal is to provide a safe space where BIPOC students can discuss their potentially shared experiences while on campus. The group sent out a survey that asked students to explain these instances in depth.
What has the group accomplished so far?
The committee is fairly young, but the group went straight to work in order to bring awareness of diversity issues to the IE University community. After the survey, a petition was drafted and garnered much support from both master and undergraduate students alike. IE University President, Santiago Iñiguez, addressed the petition in a video message sent to the entire student body, encouraging the community to continue fighting for social justice and racial equality. The committee soon caught the attention of both the IE University Center for Diversity, as well as Campus Life. During the student government’s first ever Social Awareness Week in October, the committee was featured on a podcast episode with the group, IE Think.
The IE University Center for Diversity is working on an initiative with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to create a diversity training program for students and faculty. In order to foster inclusion of all IE University community members, we are currently encouraging collaboration between the IE University Ethics & Compliance Club and the student government to address issues when they arise.
What would the committee like to see the group accomplish this year?
Despite the already long list of achievements, there is never a stopping point in the fight for equality. Lyana hopes to see the committee work alongside the IE Out and Allies Club. She is also optimistic about the partnership with IE University Center for Diversity’s Celia de Anca, and Campus Life’s Lynn Yates, as they hold significant influence in the IE University community as a whole. She strives to create an easier process for reporting discrimination on campus, and provide a support system for students who may be struggling. Overall, the goal is to hold people on campus accountable in some way or another so that everyone can feel safe.
How can IE University students contribute to the committee’s cause on a daily basis in order to graduate as more mindful students?
Lyana believes it is important to recognize that equality and inclusion are not achieved by only the work of the student government and the committee, but instead, by an ongoing effort between everyone on campus. She hopes to host more events similar to the Social Awareness Week where open discussions can be held to help people see what is truly happening. Lyana encourages students to not be bystanders, but to help stand up for people who find themselves in uncomfortable situations.
The IE University Diversity and Inclusion Committee is a young, but impactful addition to the IE community. Actions do not disintegrate, therefore we must continue to support all members of our community and continue gaining support within IE University Administration. Small shifts are what can lead to overall institutional change.