Belmont starts HOPE Council to open communication

The Office of the Dean of Students and Student Engagement and Leadership Development have started a new council to welcome communication and collaboration among underrepresented student groups at Belmont.

HOPE Council will consist of students of all demographics on campus, and administrators are looking forward to interacting with council members.

Assistant Dean of Students and University Title IX Coordinator, Neil Jamerson is currently working along with University Ministries and SELD to coordinate and support the group.

Jamerson has past experience in advising the Multicultural Leadership Council at Vanderbilt University. Either Jamerson or a member from SELD plans to advise the HOPE Council when meetings begin.

“I hope it prepares students to use the power and privilege that comes from a college degree to stand between a broken world and those it seeks to break, whether that means being a voice of advocacy for the voiceless or standing alongside others as an ally so that each is strengthened,” Jamerson said.

The idea for the council originated about two years ago, and now the university is ready to officially invite representatives from groups including, but not limited to, Bruin Vets, Rumi Club, Bridge Builders, Black Student Association, Women’s Law Student Organization and Hispanic Student Alliance.

Upon hearing about HOPE Council through Student Affairs, Belmont senior and Bridge Builders president Sean Della Croce immediately connected with the group.

“It seems like HOPE Council will be the megaphone for underrepresented people,” Della Croce said.

Bridge Builders focuses on “the intersection of faith and sexuality” on campus and fulfills the role of providing a community for Belmont’s LGBT population, Della Croce said. She further explained how Bridge Builders looks forward to working alongside other marginalized groups to support each other and promote convocations and programs in the future.

With the support of HOPE Council, Della Croce sees new possibilities for her group and others.

“I am really surprised and excited by how quickly it came to fruition, and I am so excited that Bridge Builders is included in the HOPE Council,” Della Croce said. “I think it’s a huge progression from where the university was five years ago.”

On a bigger scale, both Della Croce and Jamerson echoed the potential of the HOPE Council signifying Belmont’s larger effort to increase diversity on campus.

Both Belmont VISION 2015 and VISION 2020 call for a more diverse campus and Jamerson believes that HOPE Council is one of the important steps towards reaching that goal.

Students from underrepresented groups who come to Belmont need to feel comfortable and find a support system in a group that they identify with, or they will most likely not return to the university, Della Croce said.

Jamerson expects that the implications of HOPE Council will extend outside of Belmont’s campus.

“I dream big and hope the HOPE Council has a far-reaching impact both in our community and beyond,” Jamerson said. “I hope it allows students to better understand themselves and feel both confident and inspired by that knowledge. I hope it challenges students to critically think about the complexity and richness of our world.”

For students looking to join in the conversation, HOPE Council Applications are due by Jan. 30.

This article was written by Brooklyn Penn. 

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