‘Actions Speak Louder’ Challenge Closes on a High Note—With Diversity Scholarship Success

December 7, 2020 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

The Elmhurst University Actions Speak Louder Than Words Challenge Logo is placed on a background photo that is an aerial photograph of the campus.Elmhurst University recently wrapped up the Actions Speak Louder Than Words Challenge by celebrating the students, faculty, staff and alumni who took part in it; and by rallying support for a new student diversity scholarship until the $200,000 fundraising goal was exceeded.

The goal of the Challenge was for the campus community to work actively over the Fall Term, as individuals and as a University, to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus.

More than 300 people officially accepted the Challenge, which asked participants to learn about and reflect on topics related to inequality and injustice; to support the new President’s Scholarship for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and to create a personal action plan to advance diversity goals.

Representatives from the faculty, staff and students shared their action plans during the closing event, which was held virtually and in person on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

I plan to use my learned and lived experiences to better serve the Elmhurst community of students, staff, and faculty around me, while also recognizing that I still have a lot to learn moving forward,” said Sarah Catt, director of choral activities. She promised to make culturally relevant and inclusive practices a more integral part of her choral programming and work with students.

Glen Brittich, assistant director of athletics, realized he needed “to listen more, become more educated, and become more engaged in order to make a difference.” He planned to work with coaches to help them create safe spaces on their teams; and would continue to learn more about social justice issues, both personally and professionally.

Laura Rusk, a senior majoring in political science and philosophy, submitted her action plan as a video in which she described helping other students register to vote and research whom they would vote for; and engaging in sometimes-difficult campus conversations, “to keep us moving forward, and to create a better environment for my fellow students.”

“The Challenge has highlighted the ways our campus supports our students, and how we continually seek to create an environment where all of our students can succeed and feel that they belong,” President Troy D. VanAken said. “I’m really pleased with how the campus embraced the Challenge and this opportunity to do some important work.”

Although the Challenge wrapped up on Dec. 1, the work of building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus will continue, President VanAken said.

To advance those efforts, the University also spent Dec. 1 participating in #GivingTuesday, an international day of generosity and charitable giving. This year, Elmhurst encouraged #GivingTuesday donations to the new President’s Scholarship for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which supports Elmhurst students from historically underrepresented groups.

Giving challenges and enthusiastic donations throughout the day pushed the scholarship fund beyond its $200,000 fundraising goal. In addition, more than $26,000 was raised to benefit the Elmhurst University Annual Fund and other areas of interest on campus.

“Efforts like Giving Tuesday, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scholarship and the Actions Speak Louder Than Words Challenge are all about supporting the University community—especially our current and future Elmhurst students,” President VanAken said.

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