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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 4, 2016   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Editorial: Student engagement key in growing diversity talks

To address student protesters’ claim that the administration lacks an adequate focus on diversity and inclusion, a group of representatives from the administration has created Diversity and Inclusion Circles to discuss these issues among campus constituents.

The problem, however, is the lack of student attendance at these meetings. At both the Sept. 4 and Sept. 11 diversity and inclusion discussion meetings, there were no students present.

The issue is not that students are uninterested in these meetings but that the faculty and staff members holding these discussions are not properly advertising these events to the student body. Simply posting an announcement on Intercom a week or a few days before the meeting is not enough in terms of student engagement and spreading the word.

In addition to advertising the discussion meetings more via social media, the faculty and staff members involved should engage more with current student organizations. To create a group with weekly discussions on diversity and inclusion, without even reaching out to African, Latino, Asian and Native American student organizations, seems antithetical to the group’s purpose. There are students on campus who are interested in having discussions on race, and it is the onus of these similarly passionate faculty and staff members to get in contact with these students.

Putting the pressure on students to attend these extra meetings, in addition to the structured ways in which they currently discuss these issues, feels excessive when faculty and staff members could direct their attention to these existing structures and engage with students that way. ALANA student organizations are already having these discussions, expressing what they wish would be done to address these issues. Instead of creating separate discussions during the day — when students are busy — perhaps the faculty and staff members should be engaging more with student organizations that discuss these issues on a regular basis.

It is commendable that this group of faculty and staff members is interested in talking about diversity and inclusion. However, instead of asking why students are not attending these discussions, these professors should instead collaborate more with the student community. Then they will see that students are just as concerned about diversity and inclusion as they are.