Diversity Speaks is a student organization seeking to create safe spaces for students to discuss current issues and events.
The organization was established last fall and aims to create lasting friendships, support student achievement and engage with the community through service and projects, according to its constitution.
One way the organization has carried out its mission is by creating a membership base that embraces differences and what can be learned from those differences, Johnathan Jacobs, president of Diversity Speaks, said.
"I always tell people as a human resources major that I feel like there's diversity here on campus, but the inclusion part is kind of lacking," Jacobs, a third-year marketing and human resources student, said. "So that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to pull all aspects of everybody from Black, white, Hispanic, LGBT+ communities, but also the disabled. People tend to forget about and overlook them."
Jacobs said if he could change one thing on campus, he would make students more aware and comfortable with campus life. He said coming from a predominantly Black high school to USC, he initially felt overwhelmed during his time here, until he started making connections and getting involved on campus.
Through Diversity Speaks, Jacobs said he hopes to teach students how to have conversations about diversity and inclusivity and wants to help all students to feel at home at the university.
The group has also made efforts to promote awareness on campus by holding events to educate students on topics such as mental health and women's history, while also being active and speaking out on social media, according to its Instagram.
Amaya Calloway, former Diversity Speaks community service chair and current member, discussed how Diversity Speaks spoke up during times of racial tensions on campus last year and how they became involved in conversations about the LGBTQ+ community.
"The LGBTQ community had a lot of spotlight on it last year, so we made sure that we represented them, and we got the word out about how important it was to support them," Calloway, a third-year biology student, said. "We definitely used our social media platform on Instagram, and we also held meetings to educate people."
Despite the work that Diversity Speaks and other campus organizations have done to facilitate progress, Jada Hudson, Diversity Speaks member, said there is still room for improvement when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Hudson said we can always do better.
Hudson is also the membership chair for the Association of African American Students (AAAS), the oldest organization for Black students at USC.
More university funding is needed for organizations that aim to uplift minority students, and maintaining a strong support system for these groups can assist them in their efforts, Hudson said.
Students who are interested in strengthening the support system of Diversity Speaks are encouraged to attend meetings and events and share the mission with others.
"Tell everyone you know — your different friends and different groups and organizations, to come and we can all have a great time and exchange ideas," Calloway said. "Definitely come by and see us at different events that we table at. We would love to see you and learn more from you."