Classic Signals: College changes sign to promote inclusion

By Jane Bowden
Features Editor

During the construction of what is now the R. Barbara Gitenstein Library in Nov. of 2004, a freshman at the College noticed that the construction company’s artistic rendition of the new library failed to feature minority students in the piece. After presenting the issue to Dr. Jay Howard, the director of Equity and Diversity at the time, the artist recreated the original graphic, adding two students of color.

Since then, the College has continued to promote inclusion and diversity throughout the campus.

Students rally together to celebrate diversity at the College (Photo courtesy of the TCNJ Digital Archives).

Last summer, Chanis Brown, freshman open options major in the school of music, walked by the library construction site on campus everyday and noticed the sign that features an artist’s rendition of the new library failed to include any minority students.

Last July, Brown brought the problem to the attention of a guest speaker in her Race, Class and Gender course taught by Professor Jan Nielsen. The guest speaker was Dr. Jay Howard, director of Equity and Diversity.

After three weeks and considering all options, Howard worked with the office of Campus Planning and the sign was re-rendered to include several minority students.

After being contacted by Howard, project Manager/Architect Joan Fasulo-Harris asked the original artist to make adjustments to the sign that would include minorities.

The solution was to recreate a graphic that would fit within the frame and use adhesive to put two minority students in the front of the library, where the space had previously been empty.

Howard said the other options the College could have taken included tearing down the sign completely or simply doing nothing. According to Fasulo-Harris, the total cost of the chosen solution was approximately $800.

Katrina Wong, president of the Asian American Association at the College was surprised by the incident.

“I would be disappointed at the College if I saw the sign over the summer, since the school stressed a lot on inclusion and diversity on campus, yet they would allow such a sign to be posted,” she said. It is common sense to include everyone in signs that represent the entire campus.”

However, Wong did give the College some credit, saying, “The College did listen to the students’ responses and changed the sign to include minorities.”

“In 20 years in industry I’ve seen many incidents like this come up and absolutely nothing ever happens” to fix the problem, Howard said. In this case “my office has done everything we can do to address this issue of inclusion.”

The office of Equity and Diversity is charged Photo courtesy of Jay Howard The sign of an artist’s rendition of the completed new library project was recently given a face-lift in response to student complaints. With the responsibility of investigating Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints and creating an inclusive environment.

Inclusion, Howard said, “means to make sure that all students and faculty are a part of the fabric of the College community.”

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