Listening Session on Diversity and Inclusion Draws Critical Concerns, Ideas for Change
Students, faculty and staff shared their experiences with issues of diversity and their ideas for making a better, more inclusive campus during a listening session Dec. 7 in Goldstein Auditorium.
More than 100 members of the University community came together for the event, “Community Voices: Listening Session on Campus Diversity and Inclusion,” organized by the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion.
The event was held to gather information about the challenges on campus and suggestions that will help form the workgroup’s recommendations, due to Chancellor Kent Syverud March 11.
Chancellor Syverud announced the creation of the Workgroup in September to consider the work done by previous campus workgroups and committees, and develop further solutions to create a more diverse and inclusive campus climate in alignment with the Academic Strategic Plan.
“As members of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion, we are committed to receiving and understanding the concerns of our community members and doing the work in a timely manner, with the understanding this will be a continuing process,” said Barry L. Wells, special assistant to the Chancellor and co-chair of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion.
Workgroup co-chair Francine D’Amico noted, “In addition to our ongoing efforts to consult with stakeholders across the University community, members of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion are in the process of considering the reports and reviewing the recommendations previously presented by relevant committees of the University Senate, the Express Yourself workgroups, appointed task forces, staff and administrators in diversity-related University offices and academic programs, as well as resolutions and recommendations from the Student Association, Graduate Student Organization, The General Body and others.” D’Amico is also co-chair of the Senate LGBT Concerns Committee, a Maxwell School faculty member, director of undergraduate studies in international relations and a member of the Academic Committee and the Standards Committee of the College of Arts and Sciences.
During the listening session, students recommended the following initiatives:
- engaging more people from across campus in these types of discussions
- defining what the University means by diversity and inclusion
- encouraging American students to connect with international students
- requiring diversity training for students and professors
- investing in programs that increase diversity
- implementing a way for students to identify their preferred pronoun within MySlice
Faculty made a handful of recommendations as well, including:
- hiring a more diverse faculty, including those with different perspectives
- adding more coursework on social justice history
- establishing a standard of diversity training across campus
- creating a place for faculty to come together to share perspectives
Workgroup members emphasized that the University administration is already working on implementing several of the ideas suggested at the listening session.
After the event, first-year student Ambar Paredes suggested more needs to be done to have others join the conversation.
“I love what we have here,” said Paredes, noting such programs as Conversations About Race and Ethnicity (C.A.R.E.) and that evening’s listening session. “But we don’t highlight them enough.”
Along with the student presence, the number of faculty and staff who participated demonstrates there is a shared community need “and that there is a desire to see a better SU,” said Jordan West, a Workgroup member and a doctoral student in cultural foundations of education, who is also pursuing a certificate of advanced studies in women and gender studies.
“We can say diversity and inclusion but we’ll feel it when it’s here, and right now we’ve heard the ways in which maybe we have more exclusion happening in spaces,” said West, who also coordinates the C.A.R.E. program.
Further input will be gathered at another community forum to be held in February. Those interested in sharing their ideas can contact a Workgroup member.