UI student promotes diversity as UISG liaison, Diwali organizer
Friday, November 2, 2012

Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, is one of the most prominent South Asian festivals of the entire year, a time that celebrates communal unity and happiness.

“People all across the world celebrate the victory of good over evil in a vibrant and colorful atmosphere,” says Sauvik Goswami, now a University of Iowa senior economics major in the Tippie College of Business.

Hawkeye Bhangra performs at a past Diwali.
Hawkeye Bhangra performs at a past Diwali. Photo courtesy of Jahan Hamilton.

Goswami loves to share his cultural heritage, and there is a perfect opportunity coming up where he'll be able to do just that as a member of the UI Indian Student Alliance (ISA).

A Diwali celebration, sponsored by the ISA, will be held on the UI campus Saturday, Nov. 3.

ISA hosts two other major events in addition to the Diwali celebration: Nachte Raho, a dance competition, and Gathe Raho, an a capella competition, both of which are held during the spring semester on the UI campus. The Diwali celebration is just one of many diversity initiatives Goswami champions throughout the year.


UI Diwali 2012, the Indian Festival of Lights

When: Saturday, Nov. 3, with dinner in the 2nd floor ballroom of the Iowa Memorial Union at 5 p.m. and performances by local talent in the IMU Main Lounge at 7:30 p.m.

Sponsor: UI Indian Student Association

Cost: The first 200 tickets sold cost $10; general admission is $15; VIP - $25

More information: Contact Sauvik Goswami at 319-621-3491 or sauvik-goswami@uiowa.edu or visit afterclass.uiowa.edu/events/diwali-2012-the-festival-of-lights/

In addition to his involvement with ISA, Goswami serves as the UI Student Government (UISG) Diversity Liaison for the 2012-13 academic year.

This is the second year the position has existed, and the purpose is to raise awareness of diversity on campus. Goswami is responsible for making organizations on campus more diverse by meeting with several administrators and student organization leaders on campus and brainstorming ways to achieve this goal.

“I felt like I had accomplished all the goals I had for ISA, and I thought that there was more I could do on campus, and UISG provided this opportunity,” Goswami says.

Goswami wanted to really make a difference with diversity on campus, and thought a way he could reach thousands of incoming students was with a diversity message known as the “Get to Know Me” campaign.

The campaign, created by Goswami and current UISG Vice President Jessie Tobin, focuses on the recognition that each individual is diverse as a result of his or her own experiences.

Incoming students are invited to get to know the diversity around them on campus by choosing from a list of activities, such as going to a place of worship different than their own, trying new cuisine, seeing a film at the Bijou Cinema or renting a movie that showcases another culture, or visiting the Cultural Centers on campus, just to name a few.

“Diversity goes beyond people’s race and religion,” Goswami says. “Every individual brings diversity through their own unique experiences and identities.”

The campaign was launched this past August during the second annual On Iowa! program, a three-day initiative for welcoming the incoming class.

“On Iowa! was crucial to the success of this initiative by allowing us to show the video to about 4,500 incoming students,” Goswami says.

Goswami says all of his campus activities are influencing his future career and civic engagement aspirations.

"I would like to work in a business with an emphasis on education such as ACT," he says. "I've also learned to challenge myself outside of work. I'd love to stay involved in the community and bring creative talents to the labor force."

Goswami says he's also interested in pursuing a master's degree in higher education and student affairs, possibly in the UI College of Education since it has highly-ranked graduate programs.

But he says he still has a lot more work to do before he leaves campus, and he hopes he's planting the seed for much of this work to carry on. For example he says that UISG hopes to partner with On Iowa! the next four years so that every student on campus will have seen the video he helped create at least once by the time he or she leave campus.

“Our goal is to start to change the common beliefs about diversity and show that it goes beyond the surface,” Goswami says.