Daily Egyptian

Students silently protest executive BOT meeting

By Rebekah Sanders, @Rsanders_DE

Four students silently protested the SIU Board of Trustees executive meeting Wednesday to express discontent with interim Chancellor Brad Colwell’s efforts to create a diversity committee.

The silent protest’s aim was to force the university administration to better define diversity and inclusiveness at SIUC. Colwell announced Tuesday a plan to increase diversity and improve race relations on campus that included a diversity committee and surveys to gauge the racial climate on campus. 

Donald Chamberlain III, a graduate student and the designated speaker representing the students, demanded the board define inclusive excellence and diversity and called for the campus’ affirmative action committee to immediately convene.

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Other demands to the administrators included equal representation of students on the diversity plan committee and an admission that there is institutional racism on SIUC’s campus.

“The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem,” Chamberlain said.

The diversity plan presented by the chancellor did not include the students, Chamberlain said, which is not ideal as he advocates for student involvement in the decisions concerning them.

“The problems we are facing on campus cannot be fixed by a one-stop-shop, one-email-deal solution,” he said. “This is going to be something that we are working on on a daily basis.”

SIU spokesperson Rae Goldsmith said the administration is trying to come up with answers to students’ concerns.

“It’s an example of what we have been hearing, what they’re saying and responding in ways that we can respond,” she said. 

Newly elected SIUC Student Trustee Naomi Tolbert said Wednesday that she in favor of the diversity plan.

Tolbert, a junior from Carbondale studying political science and international affairs, said she believes his diversity committee will be helpful in combating racial tensions on campus, not just for students today, but for future students.

Working with both students and administration is key for creating and continuing this committee, she said.

Various board committees will come together starting at 9 a.m. Thursday in Student Center Ballroom B before the trustees’ regular meeting.

Rebekah Sanders can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3325. 

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