Classic Signals: College prioritizes minority inclusion

Every week, Features Editor Ashton Leber hits the archives and finds old Signals that relate to current College topics and top stories.

Over the past few months, the College has significantly planned and redefined what diversity means to the campus community. On Sept. 5, the Advisory Commission on Social Justice: Race and Educational Attainment — comprised of faculty, students and local residents — released its final report and recommendations to President R. Barbara Gitenstein. Recommendations for projects such as the renaming of Paul Loser Hall to Trenton Hall have already been completed. In 2000, students across campus were upset with the absence of resources and services available for ethnic and cultural groups. President Gitenstein and other members of the administration devised a plan using community outreach to make the campus more diverse.

Students fight for campus diversity. (Ashton Leber / Features Editor)

At the March 9 Zero Tolerance for Ignorance rally, senior political science major Monique Perry suggested that it was time for the campus community to “redefine diversity.”

In that effort to begin that task several dozen members of the college community — students, faculty and staff — met on March 15 to discuss the pros and cons of creating an office of Multicultural Affairs on campus.

Perry contended that the proposed office should be evaluated for its ability to help the college achieve four goals: the efficient dissemination of accurate information, reform, accountability and enhanced interaction between members of various cultural ethnic groups. The meeting was coordinated by Perry and the newly formed Z-TIC (Zero Tolerance for Ignorance Collective) steering committee, which consists of student, faculty and staff volunteers.

Dr. Michael Robertson and Dr. Tim McGee, faculty senate representatives to the Z-TIC steering committee, are refining the suggestions from the meeting to create two proposals for consideration at the next Z-TIC open meeting. That meeting is expected to take place during the week of April 10, according to Charlie Williams, director of affirmative action.

The discussion is one of several diversity initiatives taking place on campus. In an e-mail to the campus community shortly after the March 9 rally, President R. Barbara Gitenstein discussed several of these initiatives, including the creation of a web-based message board that can be used to solicit factual information about rumored incidents, the formation of a faculty-led committee to consider ways to improve the campus climate, and the plans to commemorate the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King with a candlelight vigil on the steps of Green Hall on April 3.

The General Education office is planning to devote its final enrichment session to a panel discussion of race relations.

On hundreds of campuses around the country, multicultural affairs offices are responsible for coordinating diversity efforts at their respective colleges. In some of these institutions, the office reports to the college president — in others it may report to the provost or academic vice president.