In March 2023, President La Jerne Cornish announced the upcoming Center for Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. According to the announcement, the new center will help the Ithaca Forever strategic plan reach one of its goals, which is to become a national model through the college’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging values. The center will fulfill this goal by providing a strategic direction for the institution, building campus-wide accountability measures and learning from, honoring and creating sustainable processes.
The announcement about the new center came a couple of weeks after the first IC Rise Up walk-out, though there was no mention in the announcement if the voices of BIPOC students encouraged the Center for Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging to form. However, Cornish did mention that the center has a structure that will more effectively address the existing issues at the college.
While creating a new center is a start, what matters is if it will be a strong enough resource to achieve its goals. Throughout the years, the college has had resources, like the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Change, and yet, as of today, the members of the campus community still face microaggressions, racism and discrimination. It is not about how many centers the college can create, but about a resource that will actually advance the improvement of these problems. As BIPOC students raised concerns during the walk-out, it should not be a performative center but rather one that solves problems.
The core of the problem relies on changing the normalization of privileged communities’ mindsets. The new center needs to address this and work on building a kinder and belonging community. The main goal of the Center for Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging and the community as a whole needs to be making sure that there is no need for another walk-out five years from now.