Daily Egyptian

Interim Chancellor unveils new measures to improve campus diversity, inclusivity

Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell speaks to reporters on Monday in Anthony Hall about a racist video that was posted on YouTube calling for lynchings on campus. Colwell said administrators worked with YouTube to remove the video on Monday. — April 25, 2016, Carbondale, Ill.

Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell speaks to reporters on Monday in Anthony Hall about a racist video that was posted on YouTube calling for lynchings on campus. Colwell said administrators worked with YouTube to remove the video on Monday. — April 25, 2016, Carbondale, Ill.

By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell issued a campus-wide announcement via email Tuesday detailing a plan of action to address recent grievances aired by members of the student body and surrounding community.

“Clearly, we have much work to do to build understanding and respect, and it will take the entire community — administrators, students, faculty and staff — to move forward,” Colwell wrote in the email. “We have all heard the calls for change, and we must respond in partnership.”

The announcement comes the day after a protest on campus against a host of issues, including racism, student debt and administrative pay scales. The demonstration attracted hundreds of participants, onlookers and university officials.

Advertisement

Colwell’s plan calls for the establishment of a “diversity council” comprised of students and “other constituencies” by fall 2016 to promote the university’s overall goal of inclusivity and diversity, according to the email. He said new resources may be needed to help students acclimate to campus and he will improve current resources and programs. 

Michael Smith, president of the Black Male Roundtable registered student organization, said Tuesday he was pleased to see the chancellor address a majority of the issues that were introduced during the protest, but added there is much more that must be done to improve the social climate on campus.

The only way that will happen, Smith said, is if the majority of non-marginalized groups rally behind a movement to end racism and discrimination on campus.

“The administration can only do so much toward the social climate considering that the social climate exists mostly between students and somewhat between the community,” said Smith, a junior from Chicago studying political science.

Students and community members will have a chance to comment on the issues in the fall, as Colwell stated that surveys will be implemented to gauge race relations on campus. 

The university will also begin integrating cultural diversity into the curriculum, according to the email, and the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs have been scheduled to begin conversations before the beginning of the next academic year.

Smith said cultural diversity should be a required part of students’ university education, noting that those who fail to complete training in sexual harassment are not allowed to register for classes. He said a similar type of required education should be implemented to help educate students who do not have a first-hand experience of dealing with people of different ethnic backgrounds.

The chancellor’s plan also calls for policy reforms that focus on increasing diversity among the university faculty to ensure the university “better reflect[s] the diversity of our community.”

President of the Graduate and Professional Student Council Brandon Woudenberg said the email from the chancellor was a “good first step” toward addressing the concerns of SIU students. He added student leaders must follow up to ensure a university council does start in the fall, and it “actually creates a long-term diversity plan” for the university. 

The measures are “first steps in a larger conversation and effort,” Colwell said. 

Bill Lukitsch can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3329. 

Advertisement

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Southern Illinois University