By Angela Roberts
On Thursday, Oct. 26, co-ed biology fraternity Beta Psi Omega set up shop outside the North Campus Diner and invited passing students to contribute a square to a “diversity quilt,” which will be hung in the Stamp Student Union.
Titled “Stitching Together UMD,” the event encouraged participants to consider how they define diversity.
“To me, diversity means making the world a better place,” senior family science major Matt Wheeler said while he crafted his quilt square.
“It adds perspective. When you grow up with just one background, just one kind of worldview, you miss out on the important things that other cultures have to bring. You miss out on important lifestyles that you didn’t get a chance to experience in your childhood.” Wheeler said.
Although it is a biology fraternity, Beta Psi Omega holds diversity as a central component of its mission. In fact, the value was one of the five core pillars on which the organization was founded.
“The founders wanted to have pillars that exemplify what our frat represents and what we hold valuable at the core of us,” said senior neurophysiology major Shreya Vuchula, a Beta Psi Omega member. “Maryland is a diverse campus, and the frat was founded here on the Maryland campus, so just because of the environment we’re in, that’s why we really value diversity.”
Vuchula recognizes that although the event was mainly meant to introduce students to Beta Psi Omega and encourage them to rush in the spring, it was also “just a fun break from everyday life – just a fun thing to do to get out of the monotonous way of life.”
Students were encouraged to think about their own core values and unique traits when formulating the designs on their quilt squares. They were provided with markers and fabric squares, colored to represent the different schools on campus.
Freshman physics and math double major José Hannan copied Euler’s equation on his square, a mathematical formula that he also has tattooed on his forearm.
“It’s a bunch of really cool proofs that combine the five most important numbers in math – e, pi, i, one, and zero,” Hannan said. “I really like math, so that’s something that defines me.”
Some quilters designed their squares with publicly-recognized symbols of diversity. Wheeler drew a black fist with what he called a “big ol’ BLM.”
“I believe that black lives matter,” he said. “And not that other lives don’t matter, it’s just that there are a lot of things going on within the black community in terms of injustices. You wouldn’t say ‘all cancer lives matter’ in October when it’s breast cancer month. It’s important to recognize that we need help, as a people we need help, and we would like other people to hear our voices and hear what we have to say.”
Other square designs incorporated symbols like smiley faces and suns. Freshman biochemistry major Isabella King drew a smiley face on her square because she said, to her, diversity means happiness.