From the desk: Student government works to respond to you

Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of America?s greatest leaders. Unlike many institutions, Carnegie Mellon University does not give students a full day off. Instead, classes are held in the morning, while events that honor the life and work of Dr. King replace afternoon classes. This policy ensures that we remember the legacy of Dr. King. I support this policy and encourage you to make the most of this ?day on? by participating in the wonderful events organized by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Planning Committee.
The program begins with the annual State of Diversity Address, delivered by University President Jared L. Cohon, in which he will discuss recent and ongoing efforts to increase diversity in the Carnegie Mellon community. The University has made great strides in this area and is headed in the right direction. However, achieving this goal requires more than the administration?s creating a diverse learning environment. For Carnegie Mellon truly to be a diverse environment, every student must embrace and promote diversity on a personal basis.
After President Cohon?s address, students from Pittsburgh high schools and Carnegie Mellon students will read award-winning essays about their experiences with racial differences and discrimination. This will be followed by a panel discussion of community leaders, moderated by Carnegie Mellon?s director of diversity, Everett Tademy.
At 4:30 pm, members of the community will gather for the Candlelight Procession. This march is a symbolic reminder of the marches led by Dr. King for civil rights. The Procession will end in the University Center, where Darlene Clark Hine will deliver the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Keynote Address.
We are honored to have Dr. Hine speak on our campus. She has served as a professor of history at many prestigious universities and has edited and written widely on African-American history. She is co-editor of The Harvard Guide to African-American History and co-author of a two-volume African-American history textbook, The African-American Odyssey, among numerous other publications. Hine has received many honors, such as the Otto Wirth Alumni Award for Outstanding Scholarship from Roosevelt University and the Special Achievement Award from the Kent State University Alumni Association. She has also been awarded grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Ford Foundation.
I encourage you to attend all of these events and make a personal effort to increase diversity in your daily life. Take a course that challenges your view of the world, work to bridge the gaps between different groups of friends, learn about cultures different from yours, and be respectful of everyone around you. It is through small steps such as these that we can begin to work against America?s history of racial discrimination and toward Dr. King?s vision of a nation where people are judged not ?by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.?