The University administration failed the test and in the process showed that it had not prepared well for the exam. In this case, not only was the vision of the diverse population deemed incompatible with the standard way of doing business at La Verne, but “class” was dismissed before the student’s voice was allowed to be heard. In fact the student was not notified that a “class” session had been scheduled. Was this way of dealing with the Oshun proposal the type of experience African-American students are having in the classroom? No wonder this group feels a need to have a place at La Verne they can call home!
The situation, in short, was an attempt by the administration to stop a student lead proposal to have Oshun established as a co-governmental structure along with ASULV. Beginning in the spring 2018 semester and continuing through the summer, a vetting process of Oshun was conducted by the Office of Student Affairs. Suddenly, without any notice of a meeting taking place it was determined that, “… no separately funded and/or funding organization may be established within our current student government structure as its own entity or second student government. There is no appeal to the Board of Trustees of this administrative decision.” This decision by the committee, without inviting the representatives of Oshun into the room to hear the rationale and respond, violates norms of decency and respect for the opinion of the other. The core values of La Verne begin with ethical reasoning and respect of the individual and humanity. The administration was not prepared to deal with a diverse perspective and rather than consider the position fully, the discussion was ended and the student was told that her voice and community she represents would not be heard by anyone within the University structure.
It is in this context that the issues of diversity and inclusivity become real and tangible. It is the place where concrete theory to practice could have been exercised by the University’s administration but it failed to act in a way that was consistent with its stated values. The way in which the conversation regarding Oshun was abruptly discontinued shows a total disregard to those who brought the issue to the administration as a way to address several concerns related to the retention and graduation of African American students. The response from the administration concerning the Oshun proposal was not a plan of action, but a plan to have another conversation on how to address those issues. Oshun is theory in practice; it is a concrete example of what we teach our students to do in their careers. The question for the University to answer is whether or not it is willing to practice what it claims are its core values. To silence the conversation and not allow the other to speak is to fail the diversity and inclusivity test.
Professor of Religion and Philosophy