Daily Egyptian

New interim associate chancellor for diversity plans to create a more welcoming campus

By Marnie Leonard

SIU’s recently appointed interim associate chancellor of diversity said her goal this year is to work with the newly established diversity council to develop strategies to make academic and administrative units more inclusive.

“We want to figure out what we can do to entice people to come enjoy all that SIU has to offer,” Elizabeth Lewin said during an interview Tuesday.

Lewin, a former SIU professor, said discussions are taking place about how to recruit and retain a diverse student and faculty population. This council, which is made up of students, faculty and staff, is tasked with creating a campus where no one feels unwanted, Lewin said.

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In the spring of 2016, students protested racial inequality on campus, saying they felt “accepted but not welcome.”

Leilani Bartlett, middle with papers, a freshman from Chicago studying business, leads a march April 12 from Brown Hall to Morris Library. Bartlett, who organized the event, posted a video to Facebook on April 4 expressing her concerns about racism she said she has experienced at SIU. Her video received over 161,000 views. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

Leilani Bartlett, middle with papers, a freshman from Chicago studying business, leads a march April 12 from Brown Hall to Morris Library. Bartlett, who organized the event, posted a video to Facebook on April 4 expressing her concerns about racism she said she has experienced at SIU. Her video received over 161,000 views. (Jacob Wiegand | @JacobWiegand_DE)

The diversity council was created in an effort to rectify that, because “no one should come to college and feel threatened or not accepted,” Lewin said.

“I wouldn’t want my daughter worried about not being wanted or being bullied in any way, because then you can’t focus on your studies,” she said. “This time should be fun for students and we want everybody enjoying this time of their life.”

Lewin said she hopes to present interim Chancellor Brad Colwell with the council’s plan by the spring semester, she said.

“Nothing is going to change overnight, but I think the biggest thing we can do is encourage open dialogue,” Lewin said. “We educate each other by talking through our differences and conflicts.”

Staff writer Marnie Leonard can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @marsuzleo.

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